There has never been a sign at the Utah border telling veterans to beware, but there may as well have been. For years they've been warned that, because the state is 1 of 16 that doesn't offer its veteran residents an income tax benefit in their life after service, Utah was a poor choice of retirement destination. That may soon change, however.
"Utah was one of the states they said do not move to," Mike Dunn, an Air Force colonel, told Fox 13 in Salt Lake City. "They had one of the things to talk about of where to go and where not to go based upon financial advantages of being in certain states and being in other states."
It was Dunn who brought the issue to the attention of Rep. Lee Perry, who presented house bill 99 to the state legislature this week. The bill amends the tax code to offer military veterans a statewide exemption on retirement income. The proposal would cut $5 to $7 million out of Utah's tax revenue, but Perry takes a practical approach to the matter.
"There are people who have come here, served at Hill Air Force Base, and would like to retire in Utah," he told Utah's NPR station. "If they came back here and retired from active-duty military, they're going to get a second job, and we are going to collect income tax on those jobs, as well as they're going to spend the retirement money on buying houses and cars and all kinds of things, so we can get that money back in sales tax as well."
The Utah legislature will take Perry's measure under consideration at their next general session beginning Jan. 25.