SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Austin Bailey used to live in Utah, but he does not anymore.
When he did live here, he worked here, and he says he paid taxes on that income.
So imagine Austin's surprise when he got a notice from the Utah State Tax Commission telling him he owes taxes for all the money he earned after he moved to California. It’s income tax he says he already paid to California’s tax man.
“It seems kind of unfair to me,” he said.
When Austin protested, he says he was told that because he was still registered to vote in Utah, Utah assumed he lived here.
“Unless we registered to vote in California, then we still have to pay Utah taxes because, legally, we are still considered residents of the state of Utah,” he said.
Get Gephardt heard from two others besides Austin who lamented the same frustrations: They are being considered Utah residents by the state because of their active Utah voting registration and are being told they owe taxes for money earned outside the state.
Utah State Tax Commission Executive Director Scott Smith agreed to an interview for this story on the condition that he could not speak about any specific cases.
He pointed Get Gephardt to a 7-year-old law which declares "voter registration" should be used to determine if somebody lives here.
He declined to state whether or not he believes, as the Executive Director, using voter registration is a good barometer, referring those questions to the state legislature which sets tax policy.
So, Get Gephardt took it to Senator Curtis Bramble. It's Bramble who sponsored the bill telling the tax commission to look at voter registration.
He says he was trying to crack down on loopholes that allowed people to keep a home in the state with little to no income tax, then avoid paying taxes in Utah even though they spent most of their time here.
"If this is their home, then they ought to be paying taxes — that's what this is all about," he said.
But now, he says he feels the corrective measure "swung too far."
After hearing from a handful of constituents who are in situations like Austin’s, Bramble is now sponsoring a new law that will give the tax commission more flexibility to ignore the voter registration when determining where somebody actually lives.
As for Austin, he is currently appealing the Utah tax bill, and hopes that when he proves he paid income tax to California, Utah will see to letting him out of paying it again.