All this talk about sales tax and fuel tax increases and income tax reductions got me to looking into how Idaho’s taxes stack up against other states. The Tax Foundation, which has tons of interesting tax comparisons, compiled the “taxes paid for home state per capita.” Here’s the breakdown of those tax burdens, per capita, by state:
Overall, of state-local tax burden as a percentage of state income, Idaho ranks No. 24 in the nation, at 9.5 percent, with 1 being the highest tax burden (New York at 12.5 percent), and 50 being the lowest percentage burden (Wyoming at 6.9 percent). Idaho’s state-local tax burden as a percentage of state income is also below the national average of 9.8 percent.
In another study, released just last week, Idaho gets a much better score, with the 9th-lowest overall state and local tax burden in the country when compared to all other states and the District of Columbia, according to the Idaho State Tax Commission. Idaho also has the lowest tax burden among western states, when measured by the proportion of income that goes to pay for taxes.
That study, conducted by Property Tax Policy Bureau Chief Alan Dornfest, compares Idaho’s state and local taxes nationally and with those of an 11-state western region. It’s based on data from fiscal year 2012, the latest year for which Census figures are available.
According to the Tax Foundation, Idaho’s state and local income tax collections per person were $741 in 2011, which ranked 19th lowest nationally.
The Tax Foundation also puts together a “Tax Freedom Day” ranking, which calculates the day at which a state’s resident has earned enough money to pay off his or her total tax bill for the year.
In 2014, here were the Tax Freedom Days for Idaho and neighboring states:
April 11: Idaho (15th earliest nationally)
April 14: Montana (23rd earliest nationally)
April 15: Nevada (25th latest nationally)
April 17: Utah (21st latest nationally)
April 17: Wyoming (21st latest nationally)
April 20: Oregon (16th latest nationally)
April 25: Washington (9th latest nationally)
Other facts from the Tax Foundation:
* Idaho’s corporate income tax system consists of a flat rate of 7.4 percent. That rate ranks 21st highest among states levying a corporate income tax. Idaho’s state and local corporate income tax collections per person were $108 in 2011, which ranked 23rd lowest nationally.
* Idaho ranks 18th in the Tax Foundation’s State 2014 Business Tax Climate Index. The index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: corporate taxes, individual income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, and taxes on property, including residential and commercial property. The ranks of neighboring states are as follows: Wyoming, 1st; Nevada, 3rd; Washington, 6th; Montana, 7th; Utah, 9th; Oregon, 12th. So it turns out we’re dead last compared with our neighbors in this category, but still in the top half of the country.
* Idaho’s state and local governments collected approximately $867 per person in property taxes, which ranks 11th lowest nationally.
On this last point, this was one of the biggest reasons my wife and I decided to buy a newspaper in Idaho rather than, say, New York, Vermont or Massachusetts. As we looked at properties back East, we realized that even if we could afford to buy a house in one of those towns, we likely would not be able to afford the property taxes.
Sure enough, New York has the fifth-highest property tax bill per capita, at $2,280; Vermont 21st-highest at $1,410; and Massachusetts 8th-highest at $1,986. We didn’t even look in New Jersey, which had the highest property tax bill per capita at $2,819.
For more fascinating statistics and comparisons, check out taxfoundation.org. (They have one study called “States smoking the most smuggled cigarettes.” Intriguing.).
* Scott McIntosh is the editor of the Idaho Press-Tribune. Call 465-8110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.