About 6 percent of Utah taxpayers contributed to the state's Homeless Fund through a tax-return checkoff program, amassing about $256,485 in the first year of the program's existence.

The State Tax Commission reports that taxpayers contributed more than $466,000 through their 1988 tax returns through checkoff programs for the homeless, nongame wildlife preservation and political contributions.Returns on the 1988 tax year marked the first time taxpayers could contribute to the homeless fund under a system set up by the Legislature.

The money will be distributed to agencies that assist the homeless.

State Tax Commission spokesman Lee Shaw said about 610,400 returns have been filed thus far. Out of those, 37,601 Utahns checked off on the voluntary donation box for the homeless.

The nongame wildlife fund received $134,480 in donations from 26,499 taxpayers. That total is down slightly from last year's figure of $139,260.

That fund took in the most money in its first year of operation in 1981 for a total of $208,514, but has decreased since then, Shaw said.

On political contributions, the Republican Party received the lion's share of money with $43,253. The Democratic Party received $28,536 in donations.

Those figures are down from last year's donations of $50,253 for Republicans and $39,894 for Democrats.

The American Party in the 1988 tax year received $2,494, the Libertarians got $1,341 and the New Alliance Party got $88.

Shaw said tax commission records for the two major political parties show the Republicans peaked in the 1980 tax year with almost $99,000 in donations. Contributions to the Democrats peaked in 1979 with almost $62,000, he said.