While the tax has been around for a while, Utahns may notice an extra line on their property taxes if a bill sponsored by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City is passed in by the Utah Legislature. House Bill 264 "Property Tax Notice Amendments" would require counties to show taxpayers the portion of collected taxes benefiting charter schools, a tax that is currently incorporated into the local school district tax.
"Right now, the tax code is incorrect," Powell said. "Money that is under the school district tax is not actually going into school district, but charter schools. This amendment makes sure property owners know that, and that they can see it."
"There would be more transparency," he added. "People know where the money is and where it is going."
The current law uses a state-mandated formula to incorporate the charter school tax into the local school district tax, meaning that for home owners living in the Park City School District will only see the one tax and may be unaware they are also supporting the more autonomous charter schools in the area.
"My bill doesn't change anything about where money goes," Powell said. "For years, the school districts have passed along money that ultimately goes to charter schools. That fact is not well known or understood. As charter schools continue to grow in importance, we need to educate citizens."
"Nothing is changing, not where or how much money," he added. "This will just show on the property tax notice that money transfer is happening.
According to numbers provided by the Park City School District, on a $500,000 primary home residence, the extra line on the tax form would total $2.85. Local school districts levy the tax that is collected by the state and then divvied out.
"The number you may end up seeing on a tax notice is not actually a tax," said Todd Hauber, the PCSD Business Administrator. "It is an allocation of a tax that already goes to charters. The intent is to make the taxpayer realize that of the money taxed of them, a portion does go to charter schools."
The bill was originally presented near the end of the 2012 Utah Legislative Session, but was unable to pass in the Senate, a fact Powell attributes to its late arrival in the session. Powell is in the process of moving the bill into a house committee meeting and to the House Floor, and is in talks to find a Senate sponsor.