The Utah Taxpayers Association just released its annual report, the “2021 Cost of City Government.” The report, based on FY 2020 data, compares the tax burden placed on citizens in Utah’s 50 largest cities by population.
On average, Utah city governments (including spending for public safety special districts) take $22.31 of each $1,000 earned by residents in the city.
Another metric provided in the report is the amount of taxes and fees paid by each city resident. Using this calculation, Utah cities collect an average of $668 in taxes and fees per city resident. This is an increase of $25 from the prior year.
Salt Lake City ($1,643), South Salt Lake ($1,252), and American Fork ($1,076) top the report with the highest tax burden when examining taxes and fees collected per capita.
Clinton ($355), Syracuse ($427), and Bountiful ($430) score best on the report with the lowest tax burden when ranked by the per capita metric.
When examining this report, it is important to note that not all cities provide the same services or the same service levels. For example, some cities provide non-essential services such as dog parks or community celebrations or libraries.
In addition, some cities do not directly provide essential public services, such as police or fire. Those services may be provided by a special district that directly levies a property tax to those that it covers, whether it be a single or multiple cities. The report does factor those costs as part of the calculations, as the taxpayer is paying for essential services that are generally provided by the municipality.
The report uses the most recent data available from the United States Census Bureau, Utah State Tax Commission, and the Utah State Auditor’s Office.