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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's poor and middle-class are paying a far bigger share of their income for state and local taxes than the rich.
It's the same in most states, according to a study released Tuesday by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a private think tank.
"Unfortunately, when it comes for paying for services, Utah has a very unfair tax system," Robert S. McIntyre, the institute's tax policy director and lead author of its study, told the Desert News for Wednesday editions.
The study says that the wealthiest 1 percent of Utah taxpayers -- with average incomes of $826,000 -- pay about 5.5 percent of their income for state and local taxes.
Meanwhile, it said the middle fifth of taxpayers in Utah -- those earning between $27,000 and $43,000 a year -- pay 10.7 percent.
The poorest fifth of Utah families -- earning less than $16,000 -- pay 11.5 percent of their income for state and local taxes. That's more than twice the rate of the wealthiest Utah residents.
"Taxes ought to be based on people's ability to pay them, which means that the share of income paid in taxes should rise as income grows, not fall as in the case of Utah," McIntyre said.
Nationwide, the study found that middle-income families pay about 10 percent of their earnings on state and local taxes, and poor families pay slightly more than 11 percent.
But the richest people pay only 5.2 percent on average.
It also said that since 1989 state and local taxes have risen on low- and middle-income taxpayers both nationwide and in Utah but have fallen for the wealthiest.
Utah was not among the "Terrible Ten" states that the institute said had the most regressive tax systems.
In order from the worst, they are: Washington, Florida, Tennessee, South Dakota, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Alabama.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)