"High Rate" Income Tax States Are Outperforming No-Tax States

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Don’t Be Fooled by Junk Economics

With the economy lagging, lawmakers seeking to reduce or eliminate state personal income taxes are touting their proposals as tools for boosting economic growth. Of particular note are the governors of Kansas and Oklahoma, both of whom justified income tax repeal in their State of the State speeches by claiming that states not levying personal income taxes are outperforming those levying their taxes at the highest rates.

These claims are based largely on misleading analyses generated by Arthur Laffer, long-time spokesman of a supply-side economic theory that President George H. W. Bush once called “voodoo economics” because of its bizarre insistence that tax cuts very often lead to higher revenues. Recently, Laffer’s consulting firm has been very successful (with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page) in spreading the talking point that the nine states without personal income taxes have economies that far outperform those in the nine states with the highest top tax rates.

In reality, however, residents of “high rate” income tax states are actually experiencing economic conditions at least as good, if not better, than those living in states lacking a personal income tax.  

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