View Full Version : Oklahomans pay less in total taxes than any other state

03-31-2008, 12:55 PM
Follow the link for a table that breaks down the various taxes for each state.


The best and worst states for taxes (
By Scott McCredie

We pay Uncle Sam the same no matter where we live, but property, gasoline, tobacco, sales and state income taxes are all over the map.

The differences can be extreme. An Alaskan keeps 7 cents more of every dollar than a Vermonter, once cities and the state have grabbed their share.

Factor in federal tax and the gap grows even wider. Those who earn more money generally pay a greater percentage of it in federal taxes, so states with a greater percentage of highly paid workers end up paying more.

The state in which residents pay the most in combined state, local and federal taxes, per capita, is Connecticut (38.3%), followed by New York (37.1%), New Jersey (35.6%) and Nevada (35.2%). Oklahoma residents pay the least (27.8%), followed by those in Alabama (28.0%) and Alaska (28.1%).

We're all paying more, though. The U.S. average for state and local taxes in 2007 was 11%, up from 10.8% in 2006. The average combined state, local and federal tab for 2007 was 32.7%, up from 32.3% in 2006 and 30.7% in 1980.

On same income, taxes vary
Of course, even Ted Taxpayer and Debbie Deduction, two people making the same salary and living in the same neighborhood, pay different amounts in taxes. For example, Ted's house is worth more, so he pays higher property taxes; Debbie buys fewer goods and services, thus saving on sales taxes; Ted drives a gas hog and commutes farther to work, costing him more in gas taxes; Debbie doesn't drink or smoke, so she saves on so-called sin taxes. That's not to mention the countless other ways they can incur, avoid or defer taxes.

There are 50 states in the union and, it seems, 50 formulas for collecting taxes. Only seven states -- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming -- don't assess income taxes, and New Hampshire and Tennessee have income taxes on just dividends and interest. These states balance the lack of income taxes with other taxes, notably sales taxes.

Five states have no sales tax -- Alaska, Montana, Delaware, New Hampshire and Oregon. For 2007, the state with the lowest sales tax rate is Colorado (2.9%); the highest is California (7.25%). Among the sales-tax majority, every state but one (Illinois) exempts prescription drugs, while 31 states exempt food. Counties and municipalities can add their own sales taxes, so comparisons are difficult between states. To find the sales tax in a specific ZIP code, click here.

Gasoline and diesel are taxed at different rates in most states. Besides the straight excise tax, which varies from a low of 4 cents a gallon in Florida to a high of 36 cents in Washington, most states add other gas taxes that increase the toll. The state with the greatest total state tax on gasoline is California (45.5 cents per gallon); the lowest is Alaska (8 cents). Those are levied on top of the federal tax on gasoline, unchanged from last year at 18.4 cents per gallon.

On average, the combined state and federal gasoline tax is 45.8 cents across the nation, making the United States one of the least expensive places in the Western world to buy fuel. In Europe, government taxes make up about 60% of the price of fuel, on average, according to The Christian Science Monitor. According to the American Petroleum Institute, motorists in the western U.S. pay the most in fuel excise taxes (53.9 cents), while those in the South pay the least (38.4 cents).

States lead way on tobacco taxes
The American Lung Association gives the federal government an "F" for its lack of political will to impose greater taxes on tobacco. Although there were rumblings in Congress last year to boost tobacco taxes by 61 cents per pack, no legislation was passed. For each 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, smoking drops by about 4%, experts say.

In 2007, the federal tobacco tax remained at 39 cents a pack, the same as it has been since 2000. State and local taxes on tobacco products, however, have been steadily rising. For example, Kentucky, one of the top tobacco growers in the nation, had the lowest cigarette tax in the country (3 cents a pack) until 2005, when it raised the tax to 30 cents, where it remains. New Jersey, for the third year in a row, collects the heftiest tax on cigarettes -- $2.58 per pack -- followed by Rhode Island ($2.46) and Washington ($2.03). South Carolina, among the 21 states that grow tobacco, collects 7 cents a pack, still the lowest tax in the nation.
And coming up on the outside . . .
Are there any new trends showing up in the way states apply taxes?

Bill Ahern, the Tax Foundation's director of communications, sees several patterns developing. One is that state legislatures are coming up with plans that shift taxes from state residents to those who live outside the state.

How can this sleight of hand occur? By raising taxes on commercial property and vacation homes, some of which are owned by "nonvoting, nonresidents," Ahern says. "On the same theme," he continued, "there are numerous plans to raise taxes on lodging, rental cars, restaurant meals and other tourism targets. They are pitched to voters as a way to extract revenue from out-of-staters."

Another trend Ahern notes is the larger percentage of state revenue being generated from what some call gaming revenue and others term gambling losses. "In the early 1960s," Ahern says, "lotteries were illegal or unconstitutional in every state. Now 42 states have done a 180 and promote lottery tickets as if they were mother's milk. Last year was the first year that any state got more than 10% of its revenue from the lottery. Rhode Island did that, but it will be joined by others soon."

03-31-2008, 12:57 PM
Well, we get what we pay for. Troubled schools, poor roads, and deficient funding for other, much needed public programs.

03-31-2008, 12:58 PM

This article is a great find. This is an excellent tool we should be capitalizing on to recruit residents and businesses to our state. Lowest TOTAL TAX!

03-31-2008, 01:02 PM
It's also great ammunition for people that opposed the Ford Center improvements or that will certainly oppose future MAPS initiatives.

Yes, it's additional sales tax but only on top of a very low tax base.

I'd rather keep taxes low and then pick specific projects for any increases, rather than just give the government a ton of money and let them arbitrarily decide.

03-31-2008, 01:45 PM
Maybe if the per capita income was higher in Oklahoma the numbers wouldn't looks so good. On a macro scale this doens't look bad but when you get down to individuals not so good. For example, with 100 people in Oklahoma lets say 75 pay 15% income tax and the other 25 pay 25%. They would have a lower average than Texas where with 100 people 50 pay 15% and 50 pay 25%.

03-31-2008, 01:51 PM
Doesn't this really just show that we have a lot of low wage jobs that typically pay a smaller percentage in income taxes? That is, our average tax base is lower, so we, on average, pay a lower percentage.

03-31-2008, 01:55 PM
It's certainly true that a major component of this analysis is that where there are lots of people in higher income tax brackets, those states will pay more in tax as a percentage.

But of course, tax brackets and income levels are absolutes and are not relative to cost of living. Making more money in California or New York does not necessarily equate to a comfortable lifestyle. But it certainly will mean you'll pay more tax as a percentage of your income, even if you are just getting by due to housing prices that are multiples of what you pay in Oklahoma.

Obviously, income and disposable income are not the same but tax rates are only based on the former.