(KCPW News) More than 3,000 disabled veterans who receive a tax break from Salt Lake County must now prove they are U.S. Citizens under a new requirement that some find offensive. County Treasurer Larry Richardson blames a controversial new anti-illegal immigration law, Senate Bill 81. He says he’s always been concerned the bill would have unintended consequences.
“I attended legislative hearings on Senate Bill 81. I spoke against the bill twice. I explained to the legislators in those committee hearings the concerns that I had with respect to Senate Bill 81,” Richardson says. “No changes were made in the bill.”
Richardson says the law requires all recipients of public benefits to prove they are in the country legally, and he’s just making a good faith effort to comply with the law. In total, about 7,000 people receive some sort of public benefit from the county. About half are low-income or elderly residents who get relief on their taxes and utility bills. Richardson says he knows of only one person so far who has been denied a benefit because of the new U.S. residency requirement.
These unintended consequences are no surprise to Derek Monson, public policy manager for the conservative Sutherland Institute think tank. The group has consistently opposed Senate Bill 81.
“We were certainly concerned that there would be unintended consequences that would impact large numbers of people in the state,” Monson says. “There are problems with the bills and it is going to cause issues as time goes on as it gets implemented.”
Monson says another issue is that undocumented workers can no longer receive business licenses, which enable them to pay sales tax. He says it makes no sense to deprive the state of this revenue, especially with a budget shortfall as large as $850 million dollars.