When discussing what issues Utahns will find on their ballots in November, the conversation tends to cluster around Propositions 2 and 4, which address medical marijuana and congressional redistricting, respectively. But voters will also see less glamorous referendums on their ballots. Proposed Constitutional Amendment A, for example, would amend the particulars of tax exemptions for military service members. Here’s KSL Newsradio’s quick guide to the amendment.
The Status Quo
As it stands, Utah law provides a property tax exemption to military service members living out of state on federal active duty orders. The exemption applies to homes owned by service members and/or their legal spouses.
To qualify for the exemption, service members must serve either 200 consecutive days in a 365 year period (which may span two calendar years) or 200 days (which may include a break in service) in one calendar year. However, a service member who logged 100 days of service in the fall of one calendar year, took a season off, and then served 100 days in the spring of the next calendar year would not qualify for the exemption.
Amendment A would loosen these requirements, replacing them with a single standard: service members must serve 200 days in a period of 365 consecutive days. Their service dates do not to be continuous, and they do not need to occur within a single calendar year.
Under Amendment A, the hypothetical service member who served out of state in the fall of one calendar year and the spring of the next would qualify for a property tax exemption.
Proponents of Amendment A claim it secures the fairness of existing tax exemptions for active duty military members. Under current law, service members whose jobs or external circumstances require them to serve nonconsecutive days are often disqualified for exemptions and made to pay property taxes on homes they aren’t spending any more time in than their exempted counterparts. With the exception of a non-binding opinion question, it is the only referendum summary on Utah’s elections website not to feature any arguments in opposition.
Voter approval of Amendment A would implement H.B. 258, a bill passed unanimously by state legislators in the 2017 legislative session. The changes would take effect on January 1, 2019.
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