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SALT LAKE CITY — A new report by the Utah Taxpayers Association highlights a large discrepancy in tax burden between those who live in rural counties versus those who live in urban areas.
The report shows those in some of the most tax-heavy rural counties paying between 7% and 8.8% of their income to fund county services, and those in some larger counties paying between 1% and 2%.
"The report is very valuable in comparing the apples to apples, for instance among the larger counties along the Wasatch Front," said Rusty Cannon, president of the tax policy nonprofit that champions tax reductions across the state.
In Daggett County, which ranks the heaviest in taxes and fees, the county collects $2,610.59 per capita. Kane County, ranked second-highest, collects $2,111.87; Garfield County collects $2,105.87; Grand County collects $1,886.76; and Summit County collects $1,869.36.
The lowest-taxing counties include Washington County, where $347.99 in county taxes and fees per capita is collected; Cache County with $409.12; Sanpete County with $460.08; Iron County with $469.12; and Utah County with $472.54.
It's important to note, however, that in larger counties with more incorporated cities, many public service programs are funded by cities, reducing the burden on those counties. In Daggett County, with a population count around just 1,000 and few incorporated cities, the county needs to fund important programs like public safety and road maintenance, Cannon noted.
Washington and Cache counties' low tax burden — despite both counties' mix of rural and urban geography — "makes their placement of the best on the list a little more significant," Cannon said.
"Their tax burden has been very low consistently for quite some time," he said.
Salt Lake County residents experience the highest tax burden out of the larger Utah counties, Cannon noted.
The Utah Taxpayers Association, a group that advocates for conservative tax policies, compiles the report every other year, and Cannon said it's historically remained consistent. But this year, the association marked an increase in taxes for Summit and Wasatch counties due to increases in spending.
Cannon said the report highlights the importance of local elections, as county officials make decisions regarding how much money residents pay for taxes. He noted an "elephant in the room" is that the lower-taxed counties like Washington, Cache and Utah largely vote Republican.
"Many view growth in government spending as something that is normal, where we feel that it should not be normal. It should be constrained and, where possible, cut," Cannon said.
"These local elections matter, and over the long term, having the right elected officials that view spending in a constrained way manifests itself in the tax burden that they see."
A breakdown of taxes for each county per capita, according to the Utah Taxpayers Association report:
- Daggett, $2,610.59; 935 residents
- Kane, $2,111.87; 7,667 residents
- Garfield, $2,105.87; 5,083 residents
- Grand, $1,886.76; 9,669 residents
- Summit, $1,869.36; 42,357 residents
- Beaver, $1,868.39; 7,072 residents
- Emery, $1,625.22; 9,825 residents
- Duchesne, $1,334.37; 19,596 residents
- Rich, $1,270.18; 2,510 residents
- Millard, $1,101.86; 12,975 residents
- Wasatch, $946.98; 34,788 residents
- Wayne, $868.67; 2,486 residents
- Uintah, $852.24; 35,620 residents
- Piute, $798.38; 1,438 residents
- Salt Lake, $775.58; 1,185,238 residents
- Sevier, $757.34; 21,522 residents
- Carbon, $749.23; 20,412 residents
- San Juan, $651.51; 14,518 residents
- Weber, $651.13; 262,223 residents
- Morgan, $611.40; 12,295 residents
- Juab, $572.93; 11,786 residents
- Tooele, $562.28; 72,698 residents
- Box Elder, $521.07; 57,666 residents
- Davis, $485.89; 362,679 residents
- Utah, $472.54; 659,399 residents
- Iron, $469.12; 57,289 residents
- Sanpete, $460.08; 28,437 residents
- Cache, $409.12; 133,154 residents
- Washington, $347.99; 180,279 residents