Much of the toughest U.S. competition for new businesses and new jobs comes not from developing countries like India or Pakistan, but from another of the 50 United States. To get some idea of the ferocity of the competition, watch for the bidding to become Amazon’s second headquarters city. Bids are due tomorrow, October 19.
A key item in the bidding will be the total value of incentives like tax breaks and low land costs. Incentives will play a key role in Amazon’s decision, but a state’s corporate tax structure will also make a difference.
Amazon expects to employ some 50,000 people at its new headquarters and that many employees allows a state to offer a substantial break on both income and property taxes. And chances are that Amazon is not looking at high-cost states like California or New York that don’t have to offer incentives.
Other states, like say Wyoming and South Dakota, are unlikely to attract the new Amazon HQ, but they can seek smaller fish because they can sweeten an offer to companies that might have fewer than 100 employees. California and New York can basically tell companies that size that if they want to play they have to pay.
Which, then, are the states offering the best tax structures for businesses? The Tax Foundation recently released its “2018 State Business Tax Climate Index” for this year, and it includes a ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Tax Foundation notes that absence of a major tax is a common factor among many of the top 10 states. Property taxes and unemployment insurance taxes are levied in every state, but there are several states that do without one or more of the major taxes: the corporate income tax, the individual income tax or the sales tax. Wyoming, Nevada and South Dakota have no corporate or individual income tax (though Nevada imposes gross receipts taxes); Alaska has no individual income or state-level sales tax; Florida has no individual income tax; and New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon have no sales tax. States that levy all these taxes begin with a disadvantage, although two of the top 10 do impose all the major taxes.
Here is the Tax Foundation’s list of the 10 best states for business taxes:
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
The 10 states with the lowest rankings are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
The full report, along with a link to an interactive index by state, is available at the Tax Foundation website. The report offers details for the states in five different tax categories and assigns an overall rank to each state.