A Comparison of State Tax Rates

See how your state's tax burden compares with other states.

Do you think your state's tax burden is too high? If so, where can you move with lower taxes? This question is harder to answer than you might think.

Each of the 50 states has its own tax system that is completely separate from the federal tax system administered by the IRS. State taxes can include:

  • income taxes
  • state sales taxes
  • property taxes (imposed at the state level by 36 states)
  • excise taxes--for example, taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, and liquor
  • user fees--for example, fees to camp in state parks or to drive on state highways, and
  • other taxes, such as death and gift taxes, and documentary and stock transfer taxes.

The mix of taxes the states utilize to finance their activities can vary markedly from state to state. For example, seven states don't have income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. And five have no state sales taxes: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

To determine which states have the highest and lowest taxes you have to look at all of the taxes each state charges. For example, the fact that Washington State has no income tax doesn't necessarily mean it has lower taxes overall than Oregon, which has income tax, but no sales tax.

So how do you tell whether Oregon has lower taxes than Washington? There are various ways to measure state tax burdens.

One simple way to rank state tax burdens is by the percentage of all state residents' total income that goes to state and local taxes.

State and Local Tax Burden as a Percentage of State Income, Fiscal Year 2017

State

Tax Burden

Rank

Alabama

6.3%

49

Alaska

6.5%

50

Arizona

8.2%

31

Arkansas

9.1%

15

California

9.5%

10

Colorado

8.0%

35

Connecticut

10.2%

6

Delaware

5.6%

50

Florida

6.8%

45

Georgia

8.2%

32

Hawaii

11.3%

2

Idaho

7.8%

39

Illinois

10%

9

Indiana

8.6%

23

Iowa

9.0%

19

Kansas

8.7%

20

Kentucky

8.7%

22

Louisiana

8.3%

29

Maine

10.7%

4

Maryland

9.4%

12

Massachusetts

9.0%

18

Michigan

8.5%

26

Minnesota

10.2%

5

Mississippi

9.0%

17

Missouri

7.8%

38

Montana

7.5%

41

Nebraska

9.0%

16

Nevada

8.3%

30

New Hampshire

6.7%

46

New Jersey

10.1%

7

New Mexico

8.7%

21

New York

12.9%

1

North Carolina

8.3%

28

North Dakota

7.9%

36

Ohio

9.2%

13

Oklahoma

6.6%

47

Oregon

8.4%

27

Pennsylvania

8.5%

24

Rhode Island

10.1%

8

South Carolina

7.8%

37

South Dakota

7.1%

44

Tennessee

6.5%

48

Texas

8.0%

34

Utah

8.5%

25

Vermont

10.8%

3

Virginia

7.6%

40

Washington

8.2%

33

West Virginia

9.1%

14

Wisconsin

9.4%

11

Wyoming

7.3%

42

Based on this chart Oregon taxpayers pay 8.4% of their total income to state and local taxes. Washington taxpayers pay 8.2%. Very close.

However, the above chart provides a rather crude measurement of comparative state and local tax burdens, since everybody is lumped together regardless of income. Depending on your income, you might have to pay more (or less) than this chart indicates.

A much more sophisticated measure of a state’s tax burden is to look at how much a typical taxpayer actually pays. The following chart measures the state and local tax burden for a household earning the median income in the United States. Median income is the income level at which half of the United States households earn more and half earn less. This was $55,754 in 2017. This chart also assumes the household owns a home with a median value--$184,700; owns a car valued at $24,000; and spends what median-income households spend each year.

State and Local Tax Burden for Median Income State Households

State

Total State and Local Tax Burden 2017

Rank

Alabama

9.4%

37

Alaska

5.67%

50

Arizona

9.5%

36

Arkansas

12.3%

12

California

8.77%

43

Colorado

9.27%

38

Connecticut

13.85%

2

Delaware

6.11%

49

Florida

8.83%

42

Georgia

10.54%

28

Hawaii

10.33%

31

Idaho

8.48%

44

Illinois

14.89%

1

Indiana

11.86%

16

Iowa

12.92%

7

Kansas

12.42%

11

Kentucky

12.06%

13

Louisiana

10.39%

29

Maine

11.75%

17

Maryland

11.96%

15

Massachusetts

11.61%

19

Michigan

12.81%

9

Minnesota

11.57%

20

Mississippi

12.21%

13

Missouri

11.28%

21

Montana

7.29%

48

Nebraska

13.83%

49

Nevada

7.44%

47

New Hampshire

10.27%

32

New Jersey

12.87%

8

New Mexico

10.82%

25

New York

13.72%

3

North Carolina

10.64%

24

North Dakota

9.84%

34

Ohio

13.09%

6

Oklahoma

10.75%

26

Oregon

9.2%

40

Pennsylvania

12.45%

10

Rhode Island

13.69%

4

South Carolina

9.02%

41

South Dakota

9.75%

35

Tennessee

7.98%

45

Texas

11.04%

23

Utah

9.23%

39

Vermont

11.04%

22

Virginia

10.87%

24

Washington

11.63%

18

West Virginia

10.39%

30

Wisconsin

13.62%

5

Wyoming

7.45%

46

Based on this chart, Oregon taxpayers with median incomes pay 9.2% of their income in state and local taxes. Washington taxpayers with the same median incomes pay much more—11.63%. It’s likely that taxes take up more of a median income household’s income in Washington because it does not have a state income tax graduated by income. Instead, it relies more on property and sales taxes, which are not based on a taxpayer’s income. So, if you’re a middle income person, you’ll pay a smaller portion of your income in state and local tax in Oregon than Washington. The fact that Washington does not have an income tax is not good for the average taxpayer.

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