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Category Archives: Sales Tax

Click here for ULCT Economist Doug Macdonald’s 2016 Economic Forecast and Review



The Tax Commission recently distributed $39.81 million to the cities, towns and counties.  This was a 4.0% increase over last year, bringing the fiscal year-to-date increase to 4.6%.  The January distribution represents taxable sales mainly from November.

Compared to the U.S.’s 1.3% increase in retail trade sales during November, we did pretty well.  U.S. Light vehicle trucks rose 6.5% in November compared to a year earlier to 18.1 million units.

December’s CPI came out this week too.  For the year the CPI inflation index for urban consumers was up 1.1% from December 2014 to December 2015.  The Western Region’s CPI was up 1.8% during the same time frame.

Jan Dist 2016


Dec 1% Dist

Following four months of 5% plus growth, the December distribution of the 1% local sales tax increased 1.5% from a year earlier to $40.5 million.  December’s distribution represents to a large extent sales in October.

Slower sales were the norm across the nation in October too.  U.S. retail trade sales rose 1.7%, fairly close to Utah’s overall distribution. While car and truck sales rose almost 10%, non-auto retail sales in the U.S. rose only 0.5%.

Dec 1% Dist

Across the state many of the larger cities in the state saw increased distributions that ran from 1% to 3%.  Salt Lake City’s distribution rose 2.1%, West Valley’s increased 2.9%, West Jordan’s was up 1.8%. Ogden and Roy’s were up 2% and 2.9%, respectively.  Prove and Orem’s distributions were also close at 2.4% and 3.1%. In Davis County Clearfield and Layton’s distributions were up 1.5% and 2.4%, respectively.

Strong distributions occurred in: Murray (7.2%), Draper (7.9%) and Holladay (9.8%). Other cities with strong sales were Lehi, Centerville, Kaysville (new Smith’s Marketplace).  Close to 7% distributions were common in tourist-oriented cities like Park City, St. George and Moab.

We expect a stronger economy will unfold when the next two distributions come out. Hope you spent well over the holidays,

Doug Macdonald

Sales Tax Rates in West


Nov 15 dist 2

At $50.18 million, November’s 1% local sales tax distribution, representing sales from September and 3rd quarterly tax returns, rose 5.4% over last year.  This is the fourth month in a row that the distribution has increased 5% or more over the same month in 2014. For the first quarter of the cities’ fiscal year, distributions are up 5.8% over the prior year.

Nov 15 Dist

U.S. retail trade sales were up 2.3% in September compared to 2014.  Motor vehicle sales were up 10.4% to 18.1 million units.  In Utah, second quarter new car and truck unit sales were up 7%.

In Salt Lake County, where distributions were up 5.8%, Sandy (8.1%), West Valley (7.7%), Holladay (14%), and South Jordan (16.8%) sales did well.

In Utah County, Provo and Orem distributions were soft.  Provo’s distributions were off 1.3%, implying a computed sales decline of 5.3%.  In contrast, Lehi’s distribution was up 13.7%.

Weber County’s distribution was up 4.6%, where Ogden’s distribution increased 3.3%, while Roy’s was flat.

Davis County’s distribution grew almost 9% in November, with double-digit distributions in Bountiful, Kaysville, and Farmington.

Distributions in Park City (12.8%) and St. George (10.4%) were strong.  Moab’s distribution fell 3%.


Doug graph

October’s distribution (released last week) at $44.64 million was 5.1% higher than last year’s $42.46 million in local 1% sales taxes. Among the select, large cities we watch, 10 of the 24 cities recorded distributions which grew in double digits in the October distribution, which represents sales largely from August.

Across the nation, retail sales in August were up 2.2% and new light vehicle sales were up 5.2% compared to a year earlier.

In Salt Lake County, distributions in Draper, Holladay and South Jordan were up in double digits.  Solid gains were recorded in Murray, Midvale and West Valley.  Salt Lake’s distribution was up slightly less than the state average at 4.1%.  But due to its population drop of 0.8%, Salt Lake’s soft distribution gain of 4.1%, actually meant a stronger 6.0% increase in sales for the month.

Oct 15 Dist
Similar, soft 4% gains were felt in two other major cities — Ogden and Orem.

Davis County sales were up near 8%, where Bountiful, Kaysville and Farmington distributions rose more than 10%.  Distribution gains that high translate to near 20% gains in actual sales.

In Utah County, Provo and Lehi’s distribution were up near 11%.

Strong distributions were experienced in tourist areas of St. George (6.2%), Park City (10.4%) and Moab (7.5%).

Sept 15 Dist


The Tax Commission will distribute $43.12 million this month, compared to $40.35 million last year, an increase of 6.8%. This is the first month of fiscal year 2015-16.  Fiscal year 2015 finished out with a 5.3% increase with $518.1 million distributed for the 1% local sales tax.

Solid advances were made across Salt Lake County with SLC up 7.5%, Sandy up 6% and West Valley up 7.9%.

South Jordan’s distribution of $1.03 million was up 49%, implying a direct sales gain of 86.8% for July sales.

Except for Centerville, Davis County cities fared well too.  Layton and Bountiful distributions were up almost 9%. Farmington and Kaysville’s distributions grew near 10% or more.

In Southern Utah, St. George’s distribution rose 8.9%, stronger than the recent past.  Moab’s distribution rose a bit higher at 10.8%.

Also released by the Commission on the internet yesterday were second quarter taxable sales, which for Salt Lake County rose 5.6% compared to a year earlier (see chart below for industry breakdowns).

SLCo 2015 2nd Quarter



The Tax Commission distributed $50.45 million in local 1% sales taxes today, up 5.8% from the same month last year.  The August distribution represents sales from June and includes second quarter returns from smaller accounts.
August Local 1%
The August distribution is also the final month for fiscal year 2015.  At $518 million statewide, fiscal year 2015’s 1% local sales tax distributions were up 5.3% compared to FY2014’s 4.0% increase. Our forecast in December 2013 called for a 3.7% gain.

June’s 5.8% gain was strong relative to the nationwide increase in retail trade sales of 1.8%.

The largest city in the state, Salt Lake City, saw its distribution rise 1.3% in August.  Since its population impact was -0.8% and the state’s overall gain was 5.8%, we compute its direct sales were down 1.7% in August.  Its three month average distribution was up 5.8% and its fiscal year-to-date gain was 5.6%.
August 15 Dist
17% distribution gains were recorded in South Jordan and Lehi in August.  Midvale (12%), Holladay (10.6%) and Centerville (12.7%) recorded gains in the low teens.

Surprisingly, Moab posted a near 9% distribution decrease from last year.


We were unaware that July’s distribution included new population numbers from the Bureau of the Census to the Tax Commission.

Because these new numbers impact the “computed direct sales”, I revised July’s distribution report.
Revised July 15
In most cases, this doesn’t affect computed direct sales much, except for Holladay, South Jordan and Lehi, whose population changes were pretty big in 2015.  Holladay’s population increased 13.4% in 2015.  Subtracting the state’s population increase of 1.45% and then multiplying by 50% (due to the formula), its population impact will be an additional 6% each month in FY2016.

I am also including a spreadsheet with the new population numbers for July 2015 and the monthly impact on your distributions.

There probably should be another calculation backing out the hold-harmless cities, so these are approximate.

Nevertheless, I hope that this will be useful to you as you watch FY2016 distributions unfold.

July Dist 2015


Following last month’s 8.6% increase, the Tax Commission’s July 2015 distribution for the 1% local sales tax at $38.98 million was up 0.3% compared to a year earlier.  This is consistent with what we talked about last month:

 …it is possible that extraordinary inclusions of May transactions bolstered the June distribution; this would cut into next month’s distribution.”

A better gauge for the recent trend is the sum of the distributions for the last three months. which has increased 4.4%.  In addition, total distributions for first 11 months of  fiscal year 2014-15 are up 5.2%.

Nationwide, retail sales rose 2.7% in May, while new light-vehicle sales were up 6%. Disposable incomes were up 3.5% in May compared to a year earlier.

July 2015 Dist

Distributions in Salt Lake County (up 1.2%) for July 2015 were mixed.  On the plus side, Holladay’s distribution rose 13%, followed by South Jordan’s 4.1% and Salt Lake City and Draper’s 3.6%.  Distributions in Midvale, West Valley and West Jordan were less than in July 2014.

Distributions in Davis County (up 2.3%) were a bit stronger.  Farmington’s 9.3% gain was followed by a 6.2% increase in Kaysville and a 4% gain in Layton.  Bountiful and Centerville posted lower distributions.

Lower distributions were also found in most of Utah and Weber counties.

Resort cities (Moab up 14.4%, and St. George up 5.7%) fared better than most cities along the Wasatch Front.

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