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National State Tax Map


Nobody likes paying taxes, but like them or not, they fund essential government services we all need, such as schools, libraries, parks, public transportation, and safety. For many households, these aspects can make or break the decision for where to put down roots.

Taxes at the state and local levels are subject to considerable variations. A simple move across state or county lines could mean paying thousands of dollars more per year, or even per month, in taxes on your property, income, or even everyday purchases.

We’ve assembled this national state tax map for total tax transparency. We focused on state income, property, and sales taxes because they’re the most common taxes Americans pay. We even cover gas, alcohol, and cigarette taxes in case you want to dig a little deeper. If you’re considering a move, or you just want to see where your state stands, then our tax maps will show you how your current state ranks and what you could expect elsewhere.

Key Findings

  • Your state property tax rate doesn’t always align with what you’ll end up paying. California and Hawaii both have a very low property tax rate but very high property tax amounts due to their scorching-hot real estate markets.
  • Income taxes are not all created equal. States with flat taxes tend to have less income tax overall than states with graduated income tax brackets. California, New Jersey, and Hawaii all tax their highest earners over 10 percent for income tax.
  • States tend to keep excise taxes low on their major local industries. In tobacco-growing states like Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia, cigarette taxes are relatively low compared to the rest of the nation. The same holds true for taxes on wine, liquor, and beer.
  • Sin taxes on products like alcohol and cigarettes work. States with the highest taxes on cigarettes and beer tend to have the lowest smoking and binge-drinking rates across the U.S.

Table of Contents

  1. State Taxes: An Overview of State Tax Scores
  2. Income Tax: Local Salaries and Politics Matter
  3. Property Tax: Assessed Home Value Is Key
  4. Sales Tax: It Keeps Rising Because We Don’t Notice
  5. Gasoline Tax: The Price of Pavement
  6. Alcohol Tax: Temperance and Manufacturing Dictate Cost
  7. Cigarette Tax: Saving Lives by Emptying Wallets
  8. Final Word
  9. Methodology and Data
  10. Frequently Asked Questions About Taxes

State Taxes: An Overview of State Tax Scores

After ranking each state by tax weight, we discovered the South and Midwest tend to have lower state taxes, while the Northeast and West Coast have higher state taxes. No way around it — this trend is primarily due to political outlooks. With a few exceptions, most of our top 25 cheapest tax states are conservative, while the bottom 25 are progressive.

Learn more about our rankings and methodology by clicking here.

With a state tax score of 91 out of 100, Alaska is the cheapest state to live in when it comes to taxes. We attribute this low state tax burden to the lack of statewide sales tax and income tax, plus very low property taxes. Alaska derives most of its state funding through other sources, especially the oil industry, which is why a steep oil price dip in the mid-2010s economically rocked the Last Frontier.

On the other end of the spectrum, California has a tax score of 11 out of 100 because its residents pay high sales taxes, income taxes, and property taxes. Californians good-naturedly refer to this cost of living as the “sunshine tax.” Instead of actually going toward ultraviolet rays, their money funds massive infrastructure and transportation projects, health and social programs, public safety and criminal justice systems, and other sizable operations in the most populous state.

Highest and Lowest Overall State Tax Scores

Lowest Tax StatesHighest Tax States
RankTop 25State tax score  RankBottom 25State tax score
1Alaska91  24Hawaii54
2Wyoming83  27Idaho53
2Alabama83  27Michigan53
4Georgia80  27Mississippi53
5Missouri75  30Nebraska52
6Oklahoma74  31Delaware50
7Louisiana72  31Maryland50
8South Carolina70  33Indiana49
9New Mexico69  34Ohio47
10Florida67  35Utah46
11Arizona63  36Maine45
12Colorado62  37Washington42
13New Hampshire61  37Oregon42
14Montana60  37Wisconsin42
14South Dakota60  40New York39
14Kansas60  41Vermont36
17West Virginia58  42Iowa35
17Arkansas58  43Illinois34
19North Carolina57  44Minnesota31
19North Dakota57  45Pennsylvania29
19Virginia57  46Massachusetts26
19Texas57  47Connecticut23
23Tennessee55  48Rhode Island22
24Kentucky54  49New Jersey15
24Nevada54  50California11

While Alaska (No. 1) has low taxes and California (No. 50) has high taxes across the board, we found that most states exhibit a seesaw effect between the main tax categories:

  • States with high income taxes may have low property taxes (Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia).
  • States with high property taxes may have low income taxes (New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Washington).
  • States with high sales taxes may have low income taxes and low property taxes (Arkansas, Kansas, Tennessee).

In the following sections, we’ll explore state rankings for specific tax categories and provide insights as to why individual states have prioritized or avoided certain taxes.

Income Tax: Local Salaries and Politics Matter

When most of us hear the word “taxes,” income tax is probably what springs to mind. The concept of income tax is pretty straightforward: For every dollar you earn, the government takes a cut.

Unsurprisingly, we discovered that states with the highest income taxes tend to have the highest incomes. The median household income nationwide is $65,712, according to U.S. Census data, and our top five states with the highest income tax have median household incomes of $72,108 in New York, $86,738 in Maryland, $78,833 in Connecticut, $85,843 in Massachusetts, and $80,440 in California.

Highest and Lowest Income Tax States

Lowest Income Tax States Highest Income Tax States
RankTop 25Income tax (per capita) RankBottom 25Income tax (per capita)
1AlaskaN/A 26Illinois$1,076
1FloridaN/A 27Montana$1,119
1NevadaN/A 28Maine$1,150
1South DakotaN/A 29Nebraska$1,162
1TexasN/A 30Utah$1,167
1WashingtonN/A 31Rhode Island$1,173
1WyomingN/A 32North Carolina$1,177
8Tennessee$37 33Vermont$1,191
9New Hampshire$49 34Iowa$1,196
10North Dakota$423 35Ohio$1,207
11Arizona$489 36Colorado$1,209
12Mississippi$614 37Delaware$1,297
13Louisiana$632 38Kentucky$1,313
14New Mexico$640 39Pennsylvania$1,339
15Oklahoma$764 40Wisconsin$1,345
16Alabama$769 41Hawaii$1,471
17Kansas$800 42Virginia$1,542
18South Carolina$825 43New Jersey$1,570
19Indiana$909 44Minnesota$1,984
20Arkansas$922 45Oregon$2,021
21Idaho$966 46California$2,137
22West Virginia$998 47Massachusetts$2,145

So, should you move to a state with low income taxes to save money? It depends. If you can telecommute from anywhere, then it makes sense. Otherwise, the higher salaries in the most expensive states may balance out their higher income tax rates. Here are some other factors to keep in mind:

  • Flat taxes usually mean less income tax. Nine states have a flat tax — Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah — ranging from 3.07 to 5.25 percent. Of the 10 most expensive states for income taxes, only Massachusetts has a flat tax.
  • Highly graduated tax brackets mean more income tax. The highest income tax states have a top marginal rate of well over 5 percent. New York (8.82 percent for high earners), Maryland (5.75 percent), Connecticut (6.99 percent), California (12.3 percent), New Jersey (10.75 percent), and Hawaii (11 percent) each have at least seven different tax brackets, while the national average is under five.
  • Politics are a major factor but not the only one. We found it’s not accurate to say that all Republican states have low income taxes and all Democratic states have high ones. Washington state is liberal (no income tax), Kentucky is conservative (No. 38), and the middle of our list contains blue and red states alike. One explanation for this factor may be the varying sizes of the populations in these states.

Property Tax: Assessed Home Value Is Key

Property taxes bring home the bacon for state and local governments, accounting for more than 60 percent of total tax revenue in the vast majority of states (but that doesn’t make them popular). While income taxes only apply to each paycheck once, with property taxes, you’re taxed on your home’s value — and your vehicle’s value, in about half of the country — every single year.

We noticed that property and income tax had the strongest inverse relationship of all the tax categories, with many states switching positional rankings. New Hampshire and North Dakota plummeted from two of the 10 most affordable income tax states to two of the 10 most expensive property tax states. On the other end, both Kentucky and Maryland moved from pricey income tax states to some of the cheapest property tax states.

Highest and Lowest Property Tax States

Lowest Property Tax States Highest Property Tax States
RankTop 25Average property tax in 2020Average property tax rate RankBottom 25Average property tax in 2020Average property tax rate
1South Carolina$2510.18% 26Hawaii$2,5530.41%
2Georgia$4090.30% 27Arizona$2,6641.13%
3Alabama$4920.42% 28Colorado$2,7490.79%
4Alaska$7280.24% 29Florida$2,7961.34%
5Arkansas$9270.96% 30Nevada$2,9171.12%
6Oklahoma$1,0041.01% 31Maine$3,0721.56%
7North Carolina$1,1240.68% 32Wisconsin$3,2021.86%
8West Virginia$1,1481.15% 33Indiana$3,2152.24%
9Tennessee$1,1950.78% 34Illinois$3,2192.81%
10Maryland$1,2270.44% 35Washington$3,3841.04%
11Missouri$1,3711.04% 36Texas$3,7942.49%
12Kentucky$1,4021.23% 37Vermont$3,8391.66%
13New Mexico$1,4270.84% 38South Dakota$3,9702.18%
14Louisiana$1,4981.05% 39Oregon$4,0421.40%
15Ohio$1,5591.04% 40New York$4,4062.41%
16Wyoming$1,8410.69% 41Connecticut$4,7101.68%
17Kansas$1,8531.69% 42Delaware$4,9711.76%
18Virginia$1,9140.80% 43California$4,9961%
19Utah$1,9600.62% 44Pennsylvania$5,3083.55%
20Nebraska$2,0591.48% 45Iowa$5,4094.45%
21Minnesota$2,0901.08% 46Massachusetts$5,6781.29%
22Michigan$2,2131.49% 47New Hampshire$5,9892.21%
23Mississippi$2,2151.98% 48Rhode Island$6,3021.80%
24Idaho$2,3910.98% 49North Dakota$6,4214.07%
25Montana$2,4700.99% 50New Jersey$9,1992.80%

Home values, assessments, exemptions, and more make property taxes one of the most complex state-level tax categories. Here’s what we found after digging into these intricacies:

  • A low property tax rate doesn’t always mean low property tax. Hawaii and California are among the lowest 10 states in terms of property tax rates, but the property tax you’ll pay there will far exceed that of higher states because of the home values.
  • The assessed value of your property may differ from the market value. Only 22 states assess property for tax purposes at full or near-full worth. Seven of the 10 most expensive states for property taxes assess at 70 percent or above, while eight of the 10 cheapest states for property taxes assess at below 70 percent. It’s not an ironclad rule, but the trend is clear: High assessment values are strongly correlated with high property taxes.
  • Property tax exemptions make a major difference. In many states, all homeowners get a homestead exemption on their primary residence, regardless of age or income, ranging from a $375 property tax credit in Arkansas (No. 5 on our list for cheapest property taxes) to half of their home’s value in Idaho (No. 24) up to $100,000. These exemptions directly diminish assessed home value, thus lessening the property tax owed in each state.

Sales Tax: It Keeps Rising Because We Don’t Notice

Whenever you make a purchase, from dining out at your favorite restaurant to replacing your old electronics, an extra percentage gets added to the receipt. Almost all Americans pay sales taxes daily, and if you buy a big-ticket item like a car or boat, you could face thousands of dollars in sales tax all at once. We discovered the average sales tax across the U.S. is 5.6 percent, and it hit an all-time high in 2020.

While we initially thought consumerism and overall purchases would be the driving factor behind sales tax rates in the U.S., we found no clear link between these factors. Many states with high spending tendencies, such as New York and New Hampshire, were actually in the top 10 for the lowest sales tax. California did top the list for the highest sales tax per state, though, with cities like Los Angeles charging up to 10.25 percent on top of every purchase.

Highest and Lowest Sales Tax States

Lowest Sales Tax States Highest Sales Tax States
RankTop 25Sales tax RankBottom 25Sales tax
1AlaskaN/A 25Idaho6%
1MontanaN/A 25West Virginia6%
1OregonN/A 25Michigan6%
1DelawareN/A 25Vermont6%
1New HampshireN/A 25Iowa6%
6Colorado2.90% 25Kentucky6%
7Alabama4% 25Pennsylvania6%
7Georgia4% 25Maryland6%
7Hawaii4% 25Florida6%
7New York4% 35Utah6.10%
7Wyoming4% 36Illinois6.25%
12Missouri4.23% 37Massachusetts6.25%
13Louisiana4.45% 37Texas6.25%
14Oklahoma4.50% 39Connecticut6.35%
14South Dakota4.50% 40Kansas6.50%
16North Carolina4.75% 40Arkansas6.50%
17North Dakota5% 40Washington6.50%
17Wisconsin5% 43New Jersey6.63%
19New Mexico5.13% 44Nevada6.85%
20Virginia5.30% 45Minnesota6.88%
21Maine5.50% 46Tennessee7%
21Nebraska5.50% 46Mississippi7%
23Arizona5.60% 46Indiana7%
24Ohio5.75% 46Rhode Island7%
25South Carolina6% 50California7.25%

One thing we discovered in our research was that many states balance out their sales tax by offering breaks on certain categories.

  • More than 30 states levy no sales tax on groceries. Six others (Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia) have special low rates. Only four states apply their regular sales tax to groceries (Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, and Oklahoma). Some states tax candy and soda at the standard rate to discourage unhealthy habits.
  • Four states don’t tax clothing purchases (Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont). In Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, clothing under a certain amount — ranging from $50 to $250 — is likewise tax-exempt. You may still owe sales tax on accessories, fur, costumes, sports equipment, and other items.
  • Nearly 20 states offer sales tax holidays. The number changes each year, but if your state offers them (and otherwise has high sales taxes), it’s the best time to stock up on computers, appliances, school supplies, and other eligible purchases.

Gas Tax: The Price of Pavement

The price of gas might fluctuate, but taxes on it aren’t getting any lower in most places. Every state has its own tax on motor fuel, and we saw many states increase their gas taxes over the past decade.

We encountered one clear theme: Gas tax revenues tend to go toward roadway maintenance in each state, and each state prioritizes this differently. Pennsylvania, ranked No. 50 for having the highest gas tax, directly admits its tax is higher than other states’ to repair its deteriorating infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and tunnels. In the states where gas tax is lowest, such as Alabama or Georgia, they are deemphasizing gas taxes in favor of per-mile rates.

Highest and Lowest Gas Tax States

Lowest Gas Tax States Highest Gas Tax States
RankTop 25Gas tax (per gallon) RankBottom 25Gas tax (per gallon)
1Alabama$0.07 41Rhode Island$0.35
2Alaska$0.08 42North Carolina$0.36
2Georgia$0.08 42Oregon$0.36
4Kansas$0.11 42West Virginia$0.36
5Florida$0.12 45Illinois$0.39
6Indiana$0.15 45Ohio$0.39
7Hawaii$0.16 47New Jersey$0.40
7Virginia$0.16 48Washington$0.49
9Missouri$0.17 49California$0.51
10Colorado$0.18 50Pennsylvania$0.58

Simple budget considerations usually outweigh all other factors when it comes to gas taxes.

  • Gas taxes don’t always line up with states’ environmental beliefs. Some blue states are among the lowest, while some red states are among the highest. For example, New Mexico (No. 13 on our list) leans liberal but has a powerful oil industry, while conservative West Virginia (No. 44) levies a high gas tax due to its lack of refineries.
  • Many states’ gas taxes were never tied to a specific metric. This lack of correlation led to budget shortfalls over time, whereas a “variable rate” reflects the consumer price index, population growth, or inflation. We found states like California, North Carolina, and Rhode Island have higher gas taxes due to their adoption of a variable rate policy.
  • Fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles are taking a bite out of revenues. That’s why numerous states are exploring whether to tax drivers by the mile instead of the gallon. Georgia, coming in at No. 2 in our gas tax rankings, tied its gas tax to fuel efficiency standards for “new model year vehicles.”

Alcohol Tax: Temperance and Manufacturing Dictate Cost

Every state has an excise tax on beer, and most have excise taxes on wine and liquor. Many Southern states are the most expensive for alcohol taxes, with North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee all ranking in the bottom 10 on our list. Experts attribute this to the region’s Baptist tradition, dating back to the temperance movement.

Tennessee has a low liquor tax despite its high beer tax, however, so maybe it just wants you to drink Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey instead? After all, California has the country’s highest sales tax but one of its lowest wine taxes, as local wine producers form an influential lobby.

Highest and Lowest Beer Tax States

Lowest Beer Tax States Highest Beer Tax States
RankTopBeer tax (per gallon) RankBottom 10Beer tax (per gallon)
1Wyoming$0.02 41Utah$0.41
2Missouri$0.06 42Mississippi$0.43
2Wisconsin$0.06 43Florida$0.48
4Colorado$0.08 44North Carolina$0.62
4Kentucky$0.08 45South Carolina$0.77
4Oregon$0.08 46Georgia$0.85
4Pennsylvania$0.08 47Hawaii$0.93
8Maryland$0.09 48Alabama$1.05
9Massachusetts$0.11 49Alaska$1.07
9Rhode Island$0.11 50Tennessee$1.29

Here are some other insights we found relating to alcohol taxes at the state level:

  • Alcohol taxes don’t increase as often as others. We learned that most states haven’t raised their beer taxes since the 1980s. Pennsylvania and Wyoming are some of the cheapest states for beer taxes because their rates have remained the same since 1960.
  • There’s no clear pattern between sales tax and alcohol taxes. Our rankings show that states with a low sales tax can have high alcohol excise taxes (Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii), and states with a high sales tax can have low alcohol excise taxes (Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania).
  • High beer taxes do appear to reduce heavy drinking. Among our top 10 states with the highest beer taxes, half rank in the bottom 10 for binge drinking. It is clear to us that a high price of alcohol discourages excessive drinking.

Cigarette Tax: Saving Lives by Emptying Wallets

Smoking will turn your lungs black and put your finances in the red. In the first decade of the 21st century, we saw cigarette taxes skyrocket across the country, often doubling as Americans grew more health-conscious.

We noticed a significant degree of regionality and variance in cigarette taxes across the board. The Northeast and Northwest, which hold progressive ideas about public health, tax cigarettes heavily. The South, which grows most of America’s tobacco, is far less likely to punish its own cash crop. As for the top three least expensive states for cigarette taxes, Missouri harvests 3.5 million pounds of tobacco per year, Virginia over 25 million pounds per year, and Georgia up to 19 million pounds. North Carolina, which has the fifth-lowest cigarette taxes, harvests about 200 million pounds of tobacco per year

Highest and Lowest Cigarette Tax States

Lowest Cigarette Tax States Highest Cigarette Tax States
RankTop 10Cigarette tax (per pack) RankBottom 10Cigarette tax (per pack)
1Missouri$0.17 41Illinois$2.98
2Virginia$0.30 42Washington$3.03
3Georgia$0.37 43Minnesota$3.04
4North Dakota$0.44 44Vermont$3.08
5North Carolina$0.45 45Hawaii$3.20
6South Carolina$0.57 46Oregon$3.32
7Idaho$0.57 47Massachusetts$3.51
8Wyoming$0.60 48Rhode Island$4.25
9Tennessee$0.62 49Connecticut$4.35
10Nebraska$0.64 50New York$4.35

As fewer and fewer Americans use cigarettes, there’s less opposition to significant excise taxes on them. Cigarette taxes have climbed since their origination, and we don’t expect they’ll ever come back down.

  • States with high cigarette taxes have fewer smokers per capita. We found that four of the 10 states with the highest cigarette taxes (Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Washington) rank among the 10 lowest for cigarette smoking rates. Utah, which only levies a moderate cigarette tax, has the lowest smoking rate at 12 percent because the Mormon faith prohibits cigarettes.
  • States with the highest median household incomes tend to have the highest cigarette taxes. Over 60 percent of the 10 highest cigarette tax states are in the top 10 for the highest median household income.
  • About half of the states have no tax on e-cigarette vaping technology. This fact held true even in states with high cigarette taxes. We attribute this tax trend to public health experts’ worry that vape taxescould push users back to cigarettes, resulting in far worse health outcomes.

A Final Word on State Taxes

The U.S. was founded on the rallying cry of “no taxation without representation.” Today we have a representative democracy, but Americans remain bitterly divided over taxes: how high they should be, who should pay more of them, and what services they should fund.

A state’s leading industries, home values, geography, and general culture can heavily shape its tax structure, but most states collect tax revenue from three sources: income, property, and sales. They can tax income with a flat rate or graduated brackets; they can tax property at full or partial value; and they can tax products at lower rates (groceries, clothes) or higher rates (gas, alcohol, tobacco).

Some taxes are less unpopular than others — Americans especially loathe property taxes and generally accept sales tax increases — but almost all states have a balanced-budget requirement, which is why a specific equilibrium keeps emerging: Lowering one tax means raising a different tax to compensate. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all, even if there’s a free lunch program. Paying taxes is never fun, but 95 percent of Americans still consider it their “civic duty.” That’s probably for the best — for nothing is certain but death and … well, you know the rest.

Methodology and Data

To provide this consumer-focused, comprehensive review of state tax information, we calculated and aggregated data from a wide range of reputable and authoritative sources.

  • We pulled state and county tax data directly from state government websites, including the Departments of Revenue, Departments of Treasury, Departments of Assessments and Taxation, Departments of Motor Vehicles, Departments of Transportation, Departments of Finance and Administration, Tax Commissions, Offices of the Comptroller, and related government organizations. We used these official sites and their annual reports to collect state income tax per capita, capital gains tax, property tax assessment rates, property tax exemptions, property millage rates, state and local sales tax, inheritance tax, estate tax, gas tax, alcohol tax, and cigarette tax. For any state tax information we couldn’t source from websites and reports, we contacted the state and county financial organizations by phone or email.
  • We calculated the state average property tax by examining each county in the U.S. individually and holistically. We first individually averaged the state, municipality, school district, fire district, special districts, and any miscellaneous property millage rates to arrive at the mean millage burden across the county. We then multiplied the average home value for 2020, derived from the Zillow Home Value Index for single-family homes, in each county by the state’s designated assessment rate and the aforementioned millage rate to arrive at the nominal property tax amount. We assessed the property tax rate by dividing our calculated property tax amount by the average home value in the county. Finally, we averaged the cumulative county-level statistics to arrive at the overall state property tax data.
  • For current and historical information related to sales tax, motor fuels tax, cigarette tax, and alcohol taxes that we couldn’t directly derive from government sources, we relied on a variety of reputable institutions, including nonprofit advocacy groups, think tanks, and similar organizations focused on tax transparency and historical accuracy.
  • Some states had varying forms of measurement for excise taxes related to alcohol and fuel. In these instances, we converted these taxes to comparable units (i.e., gallons) to ensure consistent comparisons across all states.
  • We generated the state tax score by weighing each tax category based on its perceived impact on an individual’s net worth, as demonstrated in the following breakdown: income tax (25%), property tax (25%), sales tax (25%), gas tax (15%), beer tax (5%), and cigarette tax (5%). 

Beyond the state-level organizations previously mentioned, we relied on the following sources of information in compiling this tax data: the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Legislative Fiscal Division, Iowa Department of Management, South Carolina Association of Counties, Oklahoma Policy Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Wyoming, Georgia State University, Northwestern University, Urban Institute, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Brookings Institution, Office of Legislative Research, University of Arkansas, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, University of Kentucky, Oklahoma State University, Tax Policy Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, STATS Indiana, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Truth Initiative, Yankee Institute for Public Policy, Voice for Liberty, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Texas State Historical Association, Tax Credits for Workers and Families, Committee for Economic Development, Department for Children and Families, Wine Institute, The Tax Foundation, PropertyShark, Property Tax Adjust, Sotheby’s International Realty, The New York Times, Ballotpedia, Abell Foundation, Alabama Public Health, The Civic Federation, and Kansas Government Information Online Library.

Frequently Asked Questions About Taxes

What are the differences between federal, state, and local taxes?

The IRS collects federal taxes, while state and local governments collect the other two categories. You pay federal, state, and local taxes on your income (except in seven states without an income tax), but only state and local governments collect property and sales taxes.

How are state and local income taxes assessed?

Eight states have a flat income tax, which means you’ll pay the same percentage of every dollar you earn. Most states have graduated income tax brackets, which means you’ll pay a relatively small percentage of a low income but progressively high percentages as your income grows.

What is property tax?

Property tax is the amount you must pay based on the assessed value of your home (and, in some states, your vehicle). Every state in the country has some form of property tax. Property tax is calculated by multiplying your home’s value by the state’s assessment rate and then applying a millage rate (dollar amount per $1,000 of assessed home value). These taxes vary widely on periods of assessment, county and municipality millage rates, and home values in your county.

What is a millage rate?

A millage rate determines how much you owe in property taxes. State and local officials set the rate based on school districts, fire districts, special districts, municipalities, and more, and it is then multiplied by a dollar for every $1,000 of your home’s assessed value.

How do property tax exemptions work?

Property tax exemptions lower the taxable value of your home, which can save you thousands of dollars. While some states offer exemptions to all homeowners, they’re often reserved for senior citizens, veterans, individuals with disabilities or low incomes, and other designated categories.

How does sales tax work?

Whenever you make a purchase, an extra percentage is added to your bill to cover state and local sales tax. Groceries and clothes may be taxed at a lower rate. Even in states without a sales tax, local governments may still charge one.

Do I have to pay sales tax on my online purchases?

As of 2018, every state may tax online sales. The vast majority of states now do so.

What is an excise tax?

An excise tax is an additional sales tax on certain goods or services such as fuel, alcohol, and tobacco. While the business or supplier technically pays it, they often transfer this extra cost to the consumer by raising the product price. There are federal, state, and local excise taxes.