Detailed findings & methodology:
States are a major factor in determining how much a county’s residents are taxed, be it through their tax rates or policies. Richard Auxier, a researcher at the tax analysis organization Tax Policy Center, told 24/7 Wall St. “The state’s decisions have such an outsized influence” on a family’s tax bill. The state may assign responsibility for services to counties and local government and may limit the types of taxes local governments can charge.
In theory, Americans with higher income should be paying more taxes than those with lower incomes, as the bracket system charges higher rates on progressively higher income. Of the 50 counties with the highest tax bill in their states, 19 also have the highest income and most of the rest are close to the top. Yet wealthy people have a number of tools and loopholes at their disposal that allow them to rearrange and reclassify their money to lower their tax bills.
Politics have much to do with how an area is taxed. Republicans tend to seek tax cuts, touting the virtues of a limited government. Democrats favor higher taxes to facilitate more government spending.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine how an entire community is affected by taxes as each person and family have their own unique financial situation. “There really is no average taxpayer. Everyone is different and different people pay different taxes,” Auxier said.
To identify the counties in each state with the highest tax bills, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the largest average monthly and yearly tax bill for a single adult (no children) for the year 2018, provided by the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator. Tax revenue by detailed category by state came from the U.S Census’ State and Local Finance Survey for 2016, the most recent year available.
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