So, who do you think pays the most in state taxes in the US? New Yorkers? That would have been my guess, simply based on how legendarily expensive it is. (Not to mention how bad a beating my wallet takes every time I go there. Ok, technically speaking, the nice restaurants shouldn’t count as a New York tax–it’s really more of a tax on me for not living in NYC.) So then, if not New York, maybe Massachusetts? Don’t they call it “The People’s Republic of Massachusetts”? If a strong tradition of Northeastern liberalism doesn’t result in a hefty tax bill, then nothing will.
Yes, New York and Massachusetts both make the top 5. But for a sheer, soul-crushing, burdensome tax scheme, no other state can beat Hawaii. That’s right. We’re #1! We’re #1! I quote the San Francisco Chronicle’s recent article on the states with the greatest individual tax burden on their residents:
The Aloha State may be renowned as one of the most beautiful states in the Union, but that beauty comes at significant cost: the average Hawaiian paid out $1,010 in state taxes in the first quarter of the year, the highest of any state. The two biggest components to the state’s revenues were income and excise taxes.
Unlike many other states, Hawaii doesn’t have a sales tax – instead, Hawaiians pay gross receipts (or excise) taxes on each of their purchases. That means that items like rent, medical bills and food are all taxable purchases in Hawaii, unlike other states with traditional sales tax. That also means that tax-exempt non-profits have to pay out Hawaii’s excise tax regardless of their status in other states. (Real estate costs in Hawaii are also high. Read more, in Simple Ways To Save In Retirement.)
How bad is it when San Francisco feels sorry for you? Damn. (In case you’re wondering, rounding out the top 5 are Connecticut, New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. A small, mean part of me feels that higher taxes are no less than those residents deserve for having the Patriots, Red Sox, Yankees, Giants, Jets, and Vikings between them. Hawaii’s number one and doesn’t have so much as a professional soccer team to its credit. How’s that fair? )
So could you use an extra couple of thousand dollars a year? (Double for couples where you both work.) Because this is where our decades of high-tax/high-spend policies have landed us. With an individual tax burden higher than any other state in the US. Personally, I think it’s time we start asking our legislative and gubernatorial candidates some hard questions about their tax policies.