Monday, July 15, 2002

RE: Utah’s Tax and Fee Burden
CONTACT: Mike Jerman, Vice President, 972-8814 or 808-8814 (cell)

Utah Taxes and Fees Rank 9th Highest in the Nation – No Time for Tax Hikes
Utah’s state and local tax and fee burden as a percent of personal income is 9th highest in the nation – up from 11th place in the previous year. Utahns pay 15.2% of their income in state and local taxes and fees compared to 13.5% for taxpayers in other states. These calculations are made using the Census Bureau’s information for fiscal year 1998 – 99, the most recent data available.
“Utah’s tax and fee burden continues to increase” said Association Vice President Mike Jerman. “Utah’s tax and fee burden, which is now 12.6% higher than the national average, increased 1.5% from the previous year while the average for all states decreased slightly”, Jerman added.
New York has the highest tax and fee burden at $163 per $1,000 of personal income. New Hampshire has the lowest tax and fee burden at $106 per $1,000 of personal income.
Taxes without Fees – 10th highest

When fees are excluded, Utah’s tax burden is 10th highest in the nation at $114 and is 6.2% higher than the national average. In the previous year, Utah was ranked 13th highest.
Sales Taxes – 8th highest

Utah’s general sales tax burden is 8th highest in the nation at $36.78 per $1,000 of personal income, which is 39% higher than the national average.
Individual Income Taxes – 16th highest

Utah’s individual income tax burden remained virtually unchanged at $30.47 per $1,000 of personal income and was 16th highest.
Property Taxes – 36th highest

On the bright side, Utah’s property tax ranked 36th at $24.85 which was 21% lower than the national average.
No Time for Tax Hikes

Utah’s high tax burden adversely impacts economic activity and makes the Beehive State less desirable for employers to establish or expand operations. Several policy makers have suggested increasing Utah’s property tax burden since Utah’s property tax burden is 21% lower than the national average. However, increasing Utah’s property tax burden to the national average without decreasing other taxes would increase Utah’s total tax and fee burden to 15.9% which would be the second highest burden in the nation. Only New York would have a higher rate.
“Increasing funding for critical needs such as public education needs to be addressed, but not by raising taxes. Elected officials need to explore all opportunities including the sale/leaseback of public property, tuition tax credits, as well as prioritizing existing state and local spending” Jerman commented.
In an effort to increase Utah’s public education funding without increasing Utah’s tax and fee burden, the Utah Taxpayers Association strongly supports efforts being spearheaded by House Speaker Marty Stephens, Rep. Tom Hatch, and Rep. Steve Urquhart to obtain funding from the federal government to compensate for the inability of Utah schools to collect property taxes on federal lands. Federal ownership of lands in western states, including Utah, diminishes the ability of western states to fund public education at the levels achieved by eastern states where federal land ownership is much lower.