It is important to remember that even in our global economy, states’ stiffest competition often comes from other states. The Department of Labor reports that most mass job relocations are from one U.S. state to another rather than to a foreign location. Certainly job creation is rapid overseas, as previously underdeveloped nations enter the world economy without facing the third highest corporate tax rate in the world, as U.S. businesses do. State lawmakers are right to be concerned about how their states rank in the global competition for jobs and capital, but they need to be more concerned with companies moving from Detroit, Michigan to Dayton, Ohio, than from Detroit to New Delhi. This means that state lawmakers must be aware of how their states’ business climates match up against their immediate neighbors and to other regional competitor states.
The map below shows the average property tax deduction taken on the Schedule A, per tax return, for each county in the United States.
Today’s map cuts through this clutter, presenting effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property tax actually paid, expressed as a percentage of home value.
Pennsylvania has the highest rate of 51.60 cents per gallon (cpg), and is followed closely by New York (45.99 cpg), Hawaii (45.10 cpg), and California (42.35 cpg). On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska has the lowest rate at 12.25 cpg, but New Jersey (14.50 cpg) and South Carolina (16.75 cpg) aren’t far behind. These rates do not include the additional 18.40 cent federal excise tax.
California has the highest state-level sales tax rate at 7.5 percent. Five states tie for the second-highest statewide rate at 7 percent: Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.
This week’s map shows the real value of $100 in each state. Prices for the same goods are often much cheaper in states like Missouri or Ohio than they are in states like New York or California. As a result, the same amount of cash can buy you comparatively more in a low-price state than in a high-price state.
Combined, these taxes can hit a small business hard when it eventually grows and earns more income. In California, for example, the top marginal income tax rate on pass-through businesses tops 51.9 percent. Hawaii (50.4) and New York (50.2 percent) also have top marginal tax rates on pass-through businesses over 50 percent. Even in states with no income tax, the top marginal tax rate on pass-through business income is 42.6 percent.
According to 2011 Census data, pass-through businesses employ 55.3 percent of the private sector work force of 119 million people. This represents approximately 65.8 million workers and business owners.
Of those states taxing wages, eight have single-rate tax structures, with one rate applying to all taxable income. Conversely, thirty-three states levy graduated-rate income taxes, with the number of brackets varying widely by state. Three states—Kansas, Nebraska, and Oregon—impose two-rate income taxes. At the other end of the spectrum, three states have ten or more tax brackets, led by Hawaii with twelve. Top marginal rates range from Pennsylvania’s 3.07 percent to California’s 13.3 percent.
How do taxes in your state compare nationally? This convenient pocket-size booklet compares the 50 states on many different measures of taxing and spending, including individual and corporate income tax rates, business tax climates, excise taxes, tax burdens and state spending.
One of the goals of tax reform is to improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and grow the economy. A promising way to do that is by lowering taxes on saving and investment through business tax reform. Much time is devoted to improving the corporate side of the tax code, but corporate-only business tax reform misses a significant portion of business activity.
The United States currently has a large number of pass-through businesses, or businesses that pay their taxes through the individual income tax code rather than through the corporate code. These sole proprietorships, S corporations, and partnerships make up the vast majority of businesses and more than 60 percent of net business income in America. In addition, pass-through businesses account for more than half of the private sector workforce and 37 percent of total private sector payroll. Pass-through businesses are represented in all industries in the United States.
Part of the attraction is the substantial tax reforms that occurred over the last 15 years in Canada. First among these is the dramatic reduction in the corporate tax rate, from 43 percent in 2000 to 26 percent today. The U.S. currently has a corporate tax rate of 39 percent, but lawmakers are reluctant to do what Canada did, i.e. lower the tax rate, for fear of losing tax revenue.
For nearly two decades, the Tax Foundation has published an estimate of the combined state and local tax burden shouldered by the residents of each of the fifty states, regardless of the jurisdictions to which those taxes are paid. We argue that it is important to note that a taxpayer’s true tax burden must include the substantial taxes they pay directly or indirectly to out-of-state governments.
The modern market is characterized by mobile capital and labor, with all types of business, small and large, tending to locate where they have the greatest competitive advantage. The evidence shows that states with the best tax systems will be the most competitive in attracting new businesses and most effective at generating economic and employment growth. It is true that taxes are but one factor in business decision-making. Other concerns, such as raw materials or infrastructure or a skilled labor pool, matter, but a simple, sensible tax system can positively impact business operations with regard to these very resources. Furthermore, unlike changes to a state’s healthcare, transportation, or education systems which can take decades to implement changes to the tax code can quickly improve a state’s business climate.
The five states with the highest average combined rates are Tennessee (9.44 percent), Arkansas (9.18 percent), Louisiana (8.89 percent), Washington (8.87 percent), and Oklahoma (8.72 percent). . . California, which raised its sales and income taxes through the initiative process in November of 2012, has the highest state-level rate at 7.5 percent.] Five states tie for the second-highest statewide rate with 7 percent each: Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.