Limited and Open Government

How the Grinch Made Christmas More Expensive

Every taxpayer in Whoville, Utah, liked affordable Christmas a lot… but the tax-hiking Grinch did NOT! The tax-hiking Grinch hated affordable Christmas! The whole Christmas season. Now please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

Actually, at Libertas, we know the exact reason why. The Grinch’s tax ideas, like brimstone from the sky, were peppered across ballots — enough to make you cry. They had names like RAP, ZAP, and CARE, but the effect was the same. If voters joined the tax-hiking Grinch, more expensive Christmas became.

“It’s just a 0.10 percent sales tax,” the tax-hiking Grinch declared with glee. Your wallet barely suffers, visiting carolers bear the pain, you see.” Libertas, with freedom, countered, “If you must build a new park, no ifs, ands, or buts, please trim the budget elsewhere — affordable Christmas is dying a death by a thousand cuts.

“It’s you vs. me,” the tax-hiking Grinch declared, “Let’s turn to the official results, to see how things fared”:

Recreation, Arts and Parks (RAP) Sales Tax Increases

Due to state legislation passed during the 1990s and early 2000s, cities and counties have had the option to add an additional 0.10 percent sales tax on certain goods with the revenue to be spent specifically on recreation, arts, and parks. Cities and counties use different acronyms for the RAP tax, but the process and end result is the same — city and county governments put the tax before the voters, and if it passes, sales taxes go up, and a new fund is created.

Because the tax must also be renewed by the voters every ten years, voters across Utah regularly see these tax increases on their ballots. Here’s the RAP wrap–up:

  • Seven jurisdictions had RAP taxes on their ballots. The tax passed in Orem, Lindon, Alpine, Clinton, Brian Head, Parowan, and Cedar City — all by margins greater than 10 percent.

Property and Other Tax Increases

For the second year in a row, Bluffdale voters rejected a property tax increase, this time by a margin of 52.21 percent to 47.79 percent. Pleasant Grove voters similarly rejected a proposed property tax increase by the city 52.81 percent to 47.19 percent.

Three cities in Box Elder County — Perry, Willard, and Brigham City — all overwhelmingly voted to repeal their UTA transit taxes. Apparently, the propositions were instigated by each city council after the UTA indefinitely postponed plans to bring the rail to the cities and as part of a broader move to coordinate with the county on transportation funding.

In the other direction, Brighton voted 81.72 percent to 18.28 percent to enact an additional 0.5 percent resort communities sales tax, and Wasatch County voted 61.72 percent to 38.28 percent to enact a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund emergency medical services.

Other Propositions

Tooele voters voted 57.19 percent to 42.81 percent to amend their city charter to remove a two-year term limit for the city recorder. Lastly, Brigham City voters were asked if they wanted to remove fluoride from their water. The proposition failed 67.09 percent to 32.91 percent.  

Redemption for the Tax-Hiking Grinch?

While the tax-hiking Grinch got mostly his way, a glimmer of change began to sway. As Little Cindy-Lou, with her pockets thin, struggled to stretch every coin for a Christmas gift within, the Grinch felt his heart touched by her financial plight. He reflected on her struggles, a sobering sight. The Grinch, with a pang in his heart, had a realization to impart. “Taxes weigh heavy, a burdensome toll, particularly for spending beyond government’s rightful role.”