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Utah tax, fee burden exceeds national average

Utahns and Carbon County residents continue to shoulder one of the highest state and local tax and fee burdens in the nation.

The Utah Taxpayers Association recently analyzed related data compiled by the United States Census Bureau data.

The independent public policy organization's analysis of the data indicated that Utah's state and local taxes and fees as a percent of total personal income exceeded the U.S. average by 10.8 percent.

Utah ranked fourth highest among the 50 states in taxes and fees. When fees are excluded from the equation, Utah ranked 19th highest among the 50 states.

In addition, the foundation's analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data indicated that:

•Utah's individual income taxes as a percent of total income ranked 16th highest or 19 percent more than the U.S. average.

•Utah's general sales taxes ranked 13th highest in the U.S. or 23 percent more than the national average.

•Utah's motor fuel taxes ranked 11th highest in among the 50 states or 48 percent more than the national average.

•Utah's total fee revenue as a percent of personal income ranked fifth highest in the nation.

When tuition is excluded, Utah's fee ranking dropped to 14th highest in the U.S.

On a more positive financial note for local and state residents, Utah's property taxes ranked 38th highest in the U.S. or 21 percent less than the national average, noted the independent public policy organization analysts.

Nevertheless, Utah's state and local tax and fee burden has consistently ranked higher than the U.S. average during the 10-year period from 1994 to 2004.

And the disparity between Utah and the nation continues to grow.

Tax and fee burdens as a percent of personal income fluctuate yearly for several reasons, explained the foundation.

The reasons include legislative decisions to raise or cut taxes and the condition of individual state economies.

Utah's state and local government direct general expenditures ranked 12th highest in the U.S. at 22.41 percent of personal income, continued the independent public policy organization.

Direct general expenditures exclude municipal utilities and state insurance funds. The expenditures exceed state and local revenues because DGE includes federal dollars and bonding monies, enabling governments to increase spending immediately and collect revenues during a multi-year period.

Last year, Utah's direct general expenditures totaled $13.9 billion. Including utilities and insurance funds, Utah's state and local governments spent $16.7 billion in 2004.

On a more negative note, Utah dropped from 15th to 18th place in the state business climate index recently published by the tax foundation.

Calculated using five components, the index evaluates existing governmental tax structures and ranks the state's business incentives.

The components factored into the nationwide business climate index include corporate income tax, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment tax and wealth tax, concluded the independent public policy organization.

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