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Legislature OKs tax breaks for gyms, hotels

Published March 13, 2013 4:19 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Legislature has approved a pair of sales tax breaks — one for equipment purchase for gyms, the other giving hotels a pass on things like shampoo, toilet paper and other consumables.

Together, the state will forego about $1.9 million in sales-tax revenues in the first year and more than $2 million in the second year.

Sponsors argued that not giving the businesses a tax break would result in double-taxation — that is that the gym would have to pay tax to buy the equipment or hotels for purchase of the toiletries, then the consumer has to pay sales tax on them again.

"We need to treat industries one way or the other. We can't do it both ways," said Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, who sponsored the hotel break. "This industry has been double-taxed for years."

"Taxes are bad enough the first time. The second time they're just an insult," said Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden.

But Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, argued there are so many special interest tax breaks in the code that it looks like "Swiss cheese. It's filled with holes."

"Let's not kid ourselves. This is just a situation where a special interest group comes with lobbyists … and says we want a break," King said. "We need to stop saying yes to this stuff."

SB33, giving the gym equipment tax break, passed the House 54-15. SB84, which exempts hotels' purchases of combs, lotion, magazines, newspapers, mouthwash, pens, notepads, razors, toothpaste, sewing kids, shower caps, toilet paper and other items passed 63-10. Both are now headed to the governor for consideration.