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Tax burden; little changed in 17 years

Excluding user-based fees, Utah's state and local tax burden as a percent of personal income has varied little since 1985.

According to calculations based on Utah Tax Commission and United States Department of Commerce data, the financial burden shouldered by residents registered at 11.1 percent of personal income in 1985.

Seventeen years later, Utah's state and local tax burden totaled 11 percent of personal income.

During the 17-year period of time, Utah's tax burden peaked at 11.7 percent in 1988. The peak resulted as a direct consequence of tax hikes combined with slow personal income growth, indicated the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Three years later in 1991, the burden assumed by residents across the state dropped to the lowest point, registering at 10.9 percent as corporate income taxes dived due to the recession.

In 2000, Utah's state and local tax burden reached 11.6 percent, but slid to 11 percent in two years. Just as the recession of the early 1990s caused corporate income taxes to fall, the current recession has had a similar effect, pointed out the independent public policy organization.

After rising significantly during the 1990s, individual taxes as a percent of personal income have decreased for two reasons, indicated the association.

First, capital gains and dividend income have decreased by more than $1.2 billion. Second, the Utah Legislature adjusted tax brackets in 2001 by 15 percent.

The long overdue bracket adjustment reduced effective rates by taxing a slightly smaller percentage of individual income at the highest level, pointed out the association.

The calculation includes state corporate and individual income taxes, state and local sales taxes, property taxes, motor fuel taxes and several smaller taxes, explained the association.

The tax burden calculation excludes the $31 million generated by impact fees, $31 million in building permits, $72 million in utility franchise fees and the $220 million collected as tuition at Utah's public colleges and universities as well as hunting licenses and numerous user-based fees, concluded the association.

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