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Tax numbers show how Utah's economy hit the brakes

Posted at 7:44 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 21:46:22-04

When citizens are asked to socially isolate, the ramifications extend well beyond café’s that aren’t frequented, the trips not taken, and the items not purchased. Tax information newly available from the State of Utah shows that the shutdown has also taken money from the State itself.

Comparing the 10 months of the 2020 fiscal year already in the books (July ’19 to April ’20) with the same months from 2019, personal income tax was down 12.9% and corporate tax was down 27.2%. Those numbers are more significant considering only two of the 10 months were impacted by the pandemic.

Giving more specific information about consumer spending, state sales tax numbers show Utah consumers paid 13.4% more in sales tax in February ’20 compared with February ’19, and then in March they spent 0.4% less. While that is a small decline year to year, it was bolstered by industries that weren’t immediately impacted by the pandemic shutdowns. For example, agriculture, construction and manufacturing continued at a record clip while recreation, entertainment, hotels, and food services went into an immediate, steep decline.

Another stark reminder comes from looking at Utah’s calendar for March. Major decisions on school and restaurant closures came in the second half of the month. The Stay Safe, Stay Home directive came at the end of March. Clearly, the reality of the virus was impacting Utahns and their decisions before public officials told them they should be concerned.

Here’s a look at some major Utah-centered events and related sales taxes that suffered.