The Utah State Tax Commission, created in 1931, consists of four members, not more than two of whom may belong to the same political party. The Governor, with consent of the Senate, appoints members to four-year terms. Utah law requires Commissioners represent composite skills in accounting, law, auditing, property assessment, management, and finance. The Tax Commissioners, in consultation with the Governor and consent of the state Senate, appoint an executive director to oversee the agency’s day-to-day operations.
Tax Commissioners conduct quasi-judicial hearings on state tax matters. Taxpayers who disagree with tax decisions made by Commission employees and/or county boards of equalization may appeal to the Commission. The Commission has final review authority of the appeals process, but taxpayers may appeal the decision to the district or state Supreme Court.
Over the years, Utah law has given the Commission numerous specific powers and duties to carry out the broad powers outlined in the Constitution. These include the authority to do the following:
- Require information from State and local officials
- Subpoena witnesses to testify and produce records and documents
- Supervise and direct the work of local tax officials
- Direct proceedings, actions, and prosecutions to enforce state tax laws
- Prescribe forms relating to the assessment and collection of state and local taxes, and
- Extend or reconvene sessions of county boards of equalization.
The Tax Commissioners primarily hear appeals on 37 different tax types. With the assistance of administrative law judges and the appeals support staff, the Tax Commissioners hold hearings and issue orders or final rulings on the various appeals before them. In Fiscal Year 2017-2018, the Tax Commissioners received 2,133 appeals; a 3.85 % increase over FY 2016-2017 (2,054 appeals). Click here for a breakdown of the type of cases for fiscal year 2017-2018. To provide general guidance for taxpayers, the Tax Commissioners redact confidential information from orders involving statutory interpretation, substantive case law and new or complex issues and then post them on the Tax Commission website. In addition to hearing tax appeals, the Tax Commissioners promulgate administrative rules which help clarify tax law administration.
By statute, the Tax Commissioners also manage several other functions. The Economic and Statistical Unit provides tax related data and analysis and produces economic reports. The Internal Audit Unit provides consistent review of agency functions. The Public Information Officer coordinates communication with media and other external organizations. In addition to their primary responsibilities, the Tax Commissioners function in official capacities such as serving on the Governor’s Cabinet and chairing the Farmland Assessment Advisory Committee. The Commission is active in the efforts of Governor Herbert and the Legislature in reviving Utah’s tax structure and tax reform. Other commitments include coordination with local governments and organizations as well as participating in national organizations.
John L. Valentine
Appointed and confirmed in September 2014. Graduated from Brigham Young University in accounting and economics. Obtained a Juris Doctorate degree from J. Reuben Clark Law School. A tax attorney with Howard, Lewis & Petersen, in Provo, Utah, and an adjunct Professor of Law in real property and tax at BYU Law School. Former member of the Utah House of Representatives and Utah Senate. Served as President of the Utah Senate. He is the immediate past chairman of the Multi-State Tax Commission and currently the second vice president of the Federation of Tax Administrators.
Appointed by Governor Herbert and confirmed by the Utah State Senate in 2009. Served as Lt. Governor Herbert’s deputy chief of staff. Served as a Davis County Commissioner. Obtained a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a Juris Doctorate degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
Rebecca L. Rockwell
Appointed and confirmed in 2015. A state and local tax attorney with over two decades of experience in Utah state government. She has extensive knowledge of the Utah tax code, tax case law, and administrative rules and procedures. Participated in the drafting of multiple tax code recodifications. Has provided legal counsel to the Utah State Legislature on issues including taxation, legislative process, complex transactions, economic incentives, legislative compensation, and public finance. Obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Utah and a Juris Doctorate degree from J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Lawrence C. Walters
Appointed and confirmed in 2018. Professor of public management and public finance for over 30 years. Taught at the Romney Institute of Public Management (Brigham Young University), George Mason University (Virginia), Erasmus University (Netherlands) and Xiamen University (China). Published four books and numerous articles and research reports on public finance, many on land-related taxes and charges. Served as a consultant to over a dozen countries and several international organizations, in addition to both state and local governments within the US. Received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his PhD from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
- District Court Tax Decisions
- Division of Administrative Rules
- Federation of Tax Administrators – FTA
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- International Association of Assessing Officers
- Legal Resources
- Multistate Tax Commission
- Streamlined Sales Tax
- Utah Association of Counties
- Utah Code
- Utah League of Cities and Towns
- Utah Legislation
- Utah State Bar