Household tax burden

How much of a burden are taxes in Massachusetts compared with other states? It all depends on how you make the comparison. In one common measure–total tax burden (state and local tax revenue) per capita–the Bay state ranks near the top 94th in the nation in fiscal year 1999). But that ordering ignores differences in affluence. Some other rankings (see below, Table 1) judge tax burden against total personal income, which places Massachusetts below the middle. What this fails to take into accounct, however, is that income is spread unevenly among households, and more so in Massachusetts than in most states. So, in the other table below (Table 2) , we have ranked average tax burden as a percentage of median household income. The Bay State still comes in below the US average, but just barely–and in the top half of the pack.

Table 1

Rank State Total Tax Revenue As % of Total Personal Income, FY99
1. New York 13.8
2. Maine 13.6
3. Wisconsin 12.4
4. Hawaii 12.2
5. Minnesota 12.0
5. New Mexico 12.0
7. Vermont 11.9
8. Connecticut 11.8
9. West Virginia 11.5
10. North Dakota 11.4
10. Utah 11.4
12. Rhode Island 11.3
13. New Jersey 11.2
14. Wyoming 11.1
15. Arkansas 11.0
15. California 11.0
15. Delaware 11.0
15. Idaho 11.0
19. Kentucky 10.9
19. Michigan 10.9
19. Mississippi 10.9
22. Ohio 10.8
22. Washington 10.8
24. Louisiana 10.7
24. Montana 10.7
26. Iowa 10.6
26. Kansas 10.6
28. Massachusetts 10.5
28. Arizona 10.5
28. Nebraska 10.5
28. Pennsylvania 10.5
32. Georgia 10.4
33. Illinois 10.3
33. North Carolina 10.3
33. Oklahoma 10.3
36. Indiana 10.2
36. Maryland 10.2
36. South Carolina 10.2
39. Alaska 10.1
40. Colorado 9.9
40. Missouri 9.9
42. Florida 9.8
42. Nevada 9.8
42. Oregon 9.8
42. Virginia 9.8
46. South Dakota 9.3
46. Texas 9.3
48. Alabama 8.8
49. New Hampshire 8.6
49. Tennessee 8.6
US average 10.8
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Table 2

Rank State Average Household Tax Burden as % of Median Household Income, FY99
1. New York 26.8
2. Connecticut 21.2
3. Maine 21.1
4. Hawaii 19.5
4. Louisiana 19.5
4. West Virginia 19.5
7. New Mexico 19.3
8. California 19.2
8. Minnesota 19.2
10. Wisconsin 19.1
11. New Jersey 18.7
11. North Dakota 18.7
13. Rhode Island 18.6
14. Mississippi 18.5
14. Wyoming 18.5
16. Pennsylvania 18.4
17. Kentucky 18.2
18. Vermont 18.1
19. Massachusetts 18.0
20. Illinois 17.7
20. Michigan 17.7
20. Nebraska 17.7
20. Ohio 17.7
24. Delaware 17.5
25. Washington 17.4
26. Kansas 17.3
26. Oklahoma 17.3
28. Idaho 17.2
28. Montana 17.2
30. Utah 17.0
31. Iowa 16.9
32. Arkansas 16.8
32. Georgia 16.8
32. Missouri 16.8
35. Texas 16.7
36. North Carolina 16.5
37. Florida 16.3
38. South Dakota 16.1
39. Indiana 16.0
40. Arizona 15.9
40. South Carolina 15.9
42. Maryland 15.8
42. Nevada 15.8
44. Oregon 15.6
45. Colorado 15.5
45. Virginia 15.5
47. Alaska 15.4
48. Alabama 14.8
49. Tennessee 14.5
50. New Hampshire 13.2
US average 18.4

Sources: Table 1: Measuring Up: Taxes and Spending in Massachusetts, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, April 2002. Table 2: US Census Bureau, CommonWealth calculations.