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Report: Utah's tax burden increases, sitting above national average

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Thursday, February 15, 2024   

A new report found the State of Utah's overall tax and property tax burden hit record lows over the last five years, while the state's income tax reached an all-time high.

The report by the Utah Foundation examined changes in Utahns' tax and fee trends for nearly the last century.

Christopher Collard, senior analyst for the Utah Foundation and the report's author, said the state's overall tax burden should be calculated by dividing by all residents' personal income by the amount of tax collected.

"When we say that Utah has a tax burden of $109.92 per $1,000 of personal income, that means for every $1,000 that you or I earn, an average of just under $110 go to either the state or local governments for taxes," Collard explained.

Collard pointed out Utah's overall tax burden is up from 2016 when it sat at $104.50 per $1,000 of personal income, which is the lowest tax burden in at least 60 years, according to the Utah Foundation. The report considered the tax burden to be a "constant balancing act between ensuring the government can pay for the services required by residents and how much the government takes away from people's paychecks."

The report broke down state and local taxes and mandatory fees Utah residents pay. Researchers found Utah has the 19th highest tax burden in the country, coming in just above the national average of $108.55 per $1,000 dollars of personal income.

Bill Hesterman, government affairs specialist with the consulting firm Holland and Hart, said the report helps show taxpayers where their money is going.

"$110 out of every $1000 I earn is paying for government services," Hesterman noted. "Am I happy with how my parks and how my streets and how schools are working? Or do I think that needs to be more, or do I think that is too much?"

Hesterman added the report can arm Utahns with valuable information and knowledge when they go into city hall or school board meetings, advocating for change.

Disclosure: The Utah Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Civic Engagement, and Housing/Homelessness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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