Tax Burden Still Heavy for Utahns

Tax Burden Still Heavy for Utahns

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah residents spent more of their incomes on taxes in 2000 than the previous year, the Utah Taxpayers Association reported in its annual study of taxes.

Utah residents went from carrying the 10th heaviest tax burden in the nation to being the ninth most heavily taxed, the study shows.

However, when fees are added into the tax mix, that ranking switches. It was ninth highest in taxes and fees in 1999. In 2000, it was the 10th highest.

Fiscal year 2000 is the latest year in which economic numbers from the 50 states are available, said Mike Jerman, vice president of the Taxpayers Association.

"It has gotten worse here" as far as the tax burden goes, said Jerman.

"We're faced with a difficult situation. We have high taxes. Our public school class sizes are large. It's a function of our age demographics large families, high birth rates," he said.

Huge areas of federally owned land that don't generate local property tax revenue contribute to the problem, Jerman said.

Utah residents historically rank high in tax burden, measured by the Taxpayers Association and other groups against personal income and state gross product.

Besides relatively high tax rates, Utah also places a tax on almost everything, including a sales tax on unprepared food.

Utah's total tax and fee burden rose in 2000 from 15.2 percent to 15.3 percent.

That's 12.5 percent higher than the national average.

But even with that increase, Utah dropped from ninth highest in the nation to 10th highest because some other states' tax and fee burdens increased more.

When measuring only the tax burden without fees, the percent Utah residents paid in their personal income went from 11.4 percent, on average, to 11.6 percent.

Most of that increase, said the Taxpayers Association, came in growing income taxes paid.

Alaska, New York, New Mexico and Wyoming carry the heaviest tax burdens, according to the assessment. Utah has the seventh highest motor fuel taxes, 71 percent higher than the national average.

Individual income taxes are the 13th highest, 24 percent above the average of states that impose an income tax. In 1993, the state income tax was taking 2.86 percent of total personal income.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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