Utah's drop in tax revenue biggest in nation

Utah's drop in tax revenue biggest in nation

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah lawmakers balanced the budget despite a huge disadvantage. Tax revenues dropped by a bigger percentage in Utah than in any other state.

A new study by the Rockerfeller Institute of Government says in the fourth quarter of 2008, Utah lost 16.5 percent in tax revenues while the national average was 3.6 percent. Utah's drop in corporate income tax was fifth worst in the nation.

Sales tax revenues dropped by 16.8 percent to rank the biggest drop in the nation. The national average drop that quarter was 5.9 percent.

Utah's personal income tax revenues slipped 17.4 percent that quarter, also worst in the nation. The national average drop was 0.4 percent.

Roger Tew, a former state tax commissioner who researches tax and economic policy for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, told the Deseret News Utah's economy before the recession was one of the tops in the nation. That may be why it saw such a drop.

He had not studied the report specifically but told the newspaper, "When you're at the top of the heap, you can fall a lot farther than someone else, but you're not necessarily doing worse than anybody."

Also, changes last year to sales and personal income tax may have contributed to the drop in Utah.

The entire Rocky Mountain region was hit hard, going from boom to bust instead of so-so to bust.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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