Monday, February 29, 2016

If Utah Is So Pro-Business...

...why is it effectively illegal to be a small business owner?

That really isn't much of an overstatement.  Don't believe me?  Let statutes be placed before a candid world.

First, a typical bad check statute, this one from Washington.  As is typical with such statutes, if you write a check with intent to defraud (i.e. you don't actually have such an account, or you know it doesn't have money but you're representing it does), you're subject to prosecution  and a felony conviction.  No big surprise.

Now let's look at Utah.  If you write a check and it bounces for whatever reason, and you fail to make good on it in 14 days, you are subject to prosecution and a felony conviction.  Big surprise.

Think this isn't a problem?  Say you're a construction contractor and you need materials.  The supplier says you're stretched to the limit and you need to make a payment before you can buy any more.  Fortunately, you just got paid on a project, so you deposit that check and write one to your supplier so you can keep working.  Unfortunately, the check to you was bad and bounces sky high.  Consequently, your check to the supplier does likewise.  The supplier demands that you cover, but there is no way you can do it within 14 days.  The supplier has political pull, and the next thing you know the DA has filed felony charges against you.

A slow-pay or no-pay that leaves a small business owner's account empty will do the trick just as well.  What the legislature has done here is make the DA the private collection attorney for anyone with enough political power.  In most places that's called corruption, or at least crony capitalism.  In Utah, though, it's called standard operating procedure.