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SALT LAKE CITY – A surprising twist in the Utah tax fight marked by a House bill to eliminate taxes on banks stirred new confusion in the bank/credit union wrangle as both sides prepare for a Senate floor fight this week on the controversial resolution for Congressional intervention. An apparent compromise bill to do away with corporate and franchise taxes for banks stalled in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and its future remained uncertain after the committee chairman, Rep. Wayne Harper (R-West Jordan) introduced the measure apparently as a means of finding common ground in the bank/CU clash. The Utah League of Credit Unions maintained that it “never opposed banks seeking a regulatory path for themselves,” but it objected vigorously to banker efforts “endangering our ability to serve our members.” With a separate tax phase-out package being pushed by Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., the Utah Bankers Association called the Harper proposal a political maneuver contending that while having merit a prime goal of the legislature-and now the Senate-should be to remove the CU tax exemption. The Senate Rules Committee is expected to vote out the much-debated House-passed intervention resolution which is opposed by the League as a pointless endeavor foisted on the legislature by the banking lobby. As for the Harper bill, the League questioned the motives of the UBA in sidestepping the measure. “Bankers have been screaming for years about the difference in tax treatment,” said Scott Simpson, president/CEO of the League. “The governor has a broad proposal,” said Simpson while “Rep. Harper has a narrow proposal. The bank lobby is losing its credibility by scoffing at a legislator’s genuine attempt to address their concerns.” The Utah Bankers Association action “confirms to me that their goal is beyond taxation,” declared Simpson. By a 7-6 margin, the Utah House Revenue panel on Feb. 1 voted to hold the Harper bill in committee with the West Jordan legislator contending his bill is another approach “to level the playing field between banks and credit unions.” “As we’re taking a look at financial institutions in the state of Utah,” he said, some are exempt from corporate tax on the state and federal levels while banks are not, and so this proposal “establishes a tax treatment of equity between all financial institutions.” [email protected]

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