September 19, 2013

Low Tax for Who?


States Praised as “Low Tax” are often high tax states for families living in poverty

Annual state and local finance data from the Census Bureau are often used to rank states as “low” or “high” tax states based on taxes collected as a share of state personal income. But focusing on a state’s overall tax revenues overlooks the fact that taxpayers experience tax systems very differently.  In particular, the poorest 20 percent of taxpayers pay a greater share of their income in state and local taxes than any other income group in all but 10 states (including DC).  And, in every state, low- income taxpayers pay more as a share of income than the wealthiest top 1 percent of taxpayers. Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington are six states touted as “low tax” that have especially high taxes on poor residents.  To learn more about how low tax states overall can be high tax states for families living in poverty, read the state briefs below.