Utah’s tax revenues are up significantly over last year

Saturday was the end of the state’s fiscal year, and the 11th-month report on revenue collections by the Utah State Tax Commission shows tens of millions of dollars in surplus coming – once again.

Yes, the Utah economy continues to outpace those of most other states and the nation as a whole.

The report up through May shows an additional $809.3 million in tax collections over the previous fiscal year at the same time – an increase of 9.4 percent.

Folks, that is pretty darn good.

Individual income tax collections are up 10.7 percent — $361.5 million.

The corporate income tax is up 29.3 percent — $82.8 million.

Even the usually-slow-growing state sales tax is up 8.6 percent — $192.2 million.

And the oil and gas severance tax – up 111.2 percent, an increase of $17.9 million more than the year before.

The only major taxes that are actually down are the so-called “sin taxes” – beer and tobacco.

The beer tax is down 2.9 percent over last year. But that’s just $400,000.

While the cigarette tax is down 3.4 percent, or $2.9 million.

You actually want fewer Utahns smoking, for those that do end up costing the state more later in health care costs – like Medicaid.

Cities, towns, and counties are also doing better in one category measured by the Tax Commission – the local option sales and use taxes.

The report says sales tax revenue for local governments is up 8.5 percent, or $104 million.

The state doesn’t levy a property tax for itself, but school districts that wish to belong to the Uniform School Fund – and all, of course, do – levy residential and commercial property taxes ordered by the Legislature.

And cities and counties and special improvement districts also levy local property taxes.

Property taxes are measured by the 29 county assessors and collected by county treasurers. They are not reflected in the Tax Commission report.

The state’s per-gallon gas tax is not growing much and has not grown much over recent years – mainly due to more fuel-efficient cars.

The gas tax is just up 2.6 percent, or $8.3 million.

While gasoline prices have climbed considerably in recent months, the state gas tax is NOT tied to the price of gas, but just to the number of gallons pumped.

So higher gas prices – leading to more conservation by beleaguered drivers – actually harms state gas tax revenue, not help it.

To get more sales tax revenue out of the Transportation Fund, the 2018 Legislature passed a law asking voters in November to approve a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the state gas tax.

If voters approve that, a similar amount of sales tax will be taken out of the Transportation Fund and put into the Education Fund, to help pay for public schools.

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