In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, Utah collected $11.3 billion in state and local taxes—or $3,722 for every man, woman, and child. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Utah taxpayer can afford this level of taxation?
To better answer this question, this analysis will calculate Utah’s tax burden relative to the private sector. Ultimately, it is the private sector that creates new wealth and income. A high tax burden means a state is hobbling its private sector relative to other states and reducing their long-run economic growth potential.
Fortunately for taxpayers, as shown in Chart 1, Utah’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by private sector personal income) was the eleventh lowest in the nation for FY 2016 at 12.6 percent—or -11 percent below the national average of 14.3 percent.
#Utah state and local #taxburden in FY 2016 was the 11th lowest in the nation at 12.6%— -11% below the US average of 14.3% http://bit.ly/2FX9C8F @keypolicydata #UTpol #UTleg #UTsen #UTgov #PolicyData (click to tweet)
As shown in Chart 2, Utah’s tax burden has increased over time by 14 percent to 12.6 percent in FY 2016 from 11.1 percent in FY 1950.
To put Utah’s tax burden into perspective, let’s compare it to size of major industries in the state (as a percent of private sector income). As shown in Chart 3, Utah’s 13.5 percent tax burden is greater than these combined industries: healthcare and social assistance (9.1 percent) and educational services (2.2 percent).
#Utah state and local #taxburden > combined industries: healthcare and social services, and educational services http://bit.ly/2FX9C8F @keypolicydata #UTpol #UTleg #UTsen #UTgov #PolicyData (click to tweet)
Utah’s lower than average state and local tax burden is driven by a low property tax burden (3.3 percent, 10th lowest) and all other taxes burden (1.6 percent, 13th lowest). This is partially offset by a higher than average individual income tax burden (3.8 percent, 17th highest).
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in Utah—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.
The local government tax burden for all Utah counties is shown below (sorted from highest to lowest):
Finally, don’t forget to watch our exclusive time-lapse video of state and local tax burdens over the last 66 years! See if your state has been above or below the national average?
Scott has nearly 20 years of experience as a public policy economist. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 180 studies and books. His professional experience also includes positions at the American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute, Federalism In Action, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Tax Foundation, and Heritage Foundation.