Taxes are one of the few certainties in life — but they do not have to be a great burden. From the checkout counter to the 1040 form due every April, what Americans end up paying in taxes depends largely on where they live.
While all Americans are generally subject to the same federal tax code, each of the 50 states has broad authority to levy its own sales, income, and property taxes — or not.
With data from tax policy advocacy group Tax Foundation, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the total tax burden as a share of income on a per capita basis to identify the states with the lowest and highest tax burden. Federal taxes are not included in the calculation.
While every state government relies on taxes to operate, no two state tax structures are exactly the same. For example, four states do not charge a sales tax and seven states do not levy personal income taxes. In stark contrast, 13 states derive the largest share of their annual tax revenue from sales taxes and nine from personal income taxes.
The differences are compounded by the amount states need to collect to function. While some states collect as little as $2,800 per capita annually, others collect well over $6,000. These differences have real impact on individual residents. In some states, residents pay as little as 6.5% of their annual income in state and local taxes. In others, residents pay nearly double that amount. In the state’s where people pay the most in taxes, incomes also tend to be high.
To identify the states with the highest and lowest tax burdens, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state and local tax burdens as a share of state residents’ income in fiscal 2012 provided by tax policy think tank Tax Foundation. In the case of ties, the state with the higher state and local tax collections per capita dollar value ranked lower on our list. Personal income per capita for each state is for 2017 and came from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. State individual income tax collections per capita are for fiscal 2016; state and local property tax collections per capita are for fiscal 2015; state general sales tax collections per capita are for fiscal 2016; and all came from the Tax Foundation’s “Facts & Figures 2018: How Does Your State Compare?” report. All data are for the most recent period available.