Compare Sales, Income, and Property Taxes By State – US Map 2011

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(Update 2011: I ran a search for this topic and found my own site. Ha! The maps were from 2009, so I updated this post with the updated 2011 information. They appear to have actually taken some of the feedback from earlier comment and improved the general applicability of each chart.)

I ran across some nice visual maps from today. Each one compares a different type of tax across all 50 states. How does your home state choose to extract revenue from its residents? (Yes, extract. They have to pay for things, but I doubt asking gently with a packet of free address labels would work very well for them.)

State Sales Taxes – State and Local (Combined) General Sales Tax Rates, 2011 (Greener is higher)


State Income Taxes – Top Marginal State Income Tax Rates By State, 2011


State Property Taxes – Median Property Taxes Paid by County, 2005-2009 (Darker is higher)

Click on the images for a bigger source version.

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  1. Extract revenue? How about choose to raise money to pay for the vital public services that we all share that make our country great?

    Remember that under Eisenhower, when we were building freeways and otherwise investing in our nation’s infrastructure, the top marginal tax rate was over 90% —

    Reed Hastings of Netflix has begged to be taxed at 50%. “President Obama should celebrate our success, rather than trying to shame us or cap our pay. But he should also take half of our huge earnings in taxes, instead of the current one-third.

    Then, the next time a chief executive earns an eye-popping amount of money, we can cheer that half of it is going to pay for our soldiers, schools and security. Higher taxes on huge pay days can finance opportunity for the next generation of Americans. ”

  2. Looks like a good place to live is in Southern Washington State which has no state income tax. You can then do you shopping in Oregon which has no sales tax.

  3. Captain Betty says

    I’m in WI… screwed up state.

  4. Looks like Alaska is the place to be: small sales tax, limited income tax and low property tax.

  5. This doesn’t quite tell the whole story. For instance, most places in Texas actually pay about 8.25% sales tax after you add in local, which would make it 8th highest. Also, while Texas has the highest nominal property tax rate in the country, it also has some of the lowest property values.

    Los Angeles: $350/sq ft x 0.61% tax = $2.14 annually
    Dallas: $120/sq ft x 1.76% tax = $2.11 annually

  6. Since commenting, I found better price per sq/foot data on

    Los Angeles: $280/sq ft x 0.61% tax = $1.71 annually
    Dallas: $70/sq ft x 1.75% = $1.23 annually

  7. I don’t know how they figure their numbers, but they’re off.

    Metropolitan areas of Alabama have total sales tax rates of 10%. Rural Alabama is not incorporated, so total tax rates for the state on average might be around 6%, but that’s a factor of geography and not of population. If you live in Alabama and participate in civilization, you pay $10 for every $100 of groceries.

  8. I share your pain Captain Betty! Of course, the thing that keeps me in WI is my family…. which doesn’t show up on the map.

  9. Ben: the California property tax rate is misleading due to Prop 13, which sets the property tax amount to the original sales price of the house with a maximum annual increase of 2%. In most counties, the property tax rate is at least 1%.

    So, someone who bought a house 40 years ago for $25,000 is only going to pay maybe $550 a year in property taxes. Their neighbor, who bought a similar house next door last year for $750,000 would pay at least $7,500.

  10. I live in Michigan. Property taxes are only high for those that have purchased a home recently. When you purchase a home you pay taxes on what the house was purchased for and pay more if it is not your main home. If you purchase vacant land, or a vacation home you pay 18 mills more. But on your homesteaded home (the taxable value that you pay property taxes) on will not go up over the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is less. The taxable value can go down. The property tax law in Michigan does hurt those buying a home they can afford now and then getting a nicer or bigger home as their incomes go up or as their families grow. Only helps those that have huge incomes and can purchase a home that they will stay in. It does help seniors that will stay in their homes but it is bad for the young.

    But then again Michigan has the best in income taxes for retirees. A retiree pays no income tax on pension and IRA income up to about $90,000. Social Security is not included in this amount. You also pay no state tax on Social Security. In some instances you pay no tax on interest earned. It depends on total income. Also everyone gets a tax rebate on property taxes up to a certain amount if the property taxes are over a certain % of your income and your income does not exceed I think around 80 to 90 thousand.

    The problem is that there are so many cheaters with people that own more than one home and get around paying that extra 18 mills. There are many who have tried to circumvent these laws, by putting homes in girl friends names, children’s names or their spouses names and use quit claim deeds not registered and other means to get around paying more in property taxes.

  11. Tennessee does not have a state income tax, so the map is incorrect.

  12. Sorry, I didn’t read the fine print. 🙁

  13. Another misleading item. The sales tax maps is treating states that have a sales tax and a gross receipts tax as the same thing, but there is a huge difference.

  14. Ken,
    You sre Sooooo right!
    Ed…from Vancouver,WA

    Note, though, that there is always a little math to do with respect to time and gas money when I decide if I should drive 10 miles to save a couple of bucks. 🙂

  15. The figures are state level averages. So the numbers given aren’t exactly what you pay or what is charged in a specific county or city for each state. There are a lot of reasons the taxes are higher or lower for given situations. e.g. I pay around 0.2% more on my property tax but thats due to local school bonds. They cite 8.7% tax for sales tax in WA but I know in Seattle I paid 10% cause the city/county add more. THe income tax rates are the TOP rates that only people in the higher income brackets pay, average people pay lower rates. Property tax may be based on lower property value than fair market. My state is taxing us on about 60-80% of our market value. etc.

  16. Sandra:

    The Tennessee income tax does not apply to salaries and wages, but most income from stocks, bonds and notes receivable is taxable at a flat rate of 6 percent.

    Thats why it is yellow and not white on the map. MO has a 6% income tax but is on all wages.

  17. Yay New Jersey!!! oh, wait….

  18. Texas rocks… The only area we are paying a bit more is property taxes and as someone else pointed out, house prices are cheap in Texas.

    I have to pat myself on the back for ditching the Midwest and moving to Austin. I wonder how many thousands I have saved? On the flip side, I’d probably be broke if I lived in California… (Or at least underwater…)

  19. Great reference Reader! If Reed Hastings was in charge, he could raise fees by 50% and see what happens. Oh wait, I think Netflix already tried that.

    Speaking of fees, I never did hear about an Occupy Netflix…

  20. @Sandra – TN doesn’t have income tax on wages, but they do tax investment income. That’s why the shading is two-tone. Same is true of New Hampshire. The map is correct.

    Regarding property taxes, I’m a bit befuddled by the fact that they used average property taxes paid, and not tax rates, as they do for the other two taxes. Seems like apples to oranges to me… Sure property values vary, so that matters, but who cares? So do wages. Seems like they should have kept it consistent.

  21. @GregK
    The reason why they picked an absolute value for Property Taxes is to try to show the average amount paid, because your property taxes will not scale linearly to your income (and are not at all based on your income). Someone making 500,000 will not usually pay 10x the property taxes of someone making 50k.

    Also, I don’t know what the average home costs across the country, so it’s easier (for me at least) to see the amount of property taxes paid instead of trying to do two calculations (Looking up average home price and multiplying by the average mills on the home).

  22. Looks like Southern Wyoming or Eastern South Dakota would be the places in the USA with the lowest overall tax burden.

  23. @James

    “Someone making 500,000 will not usually pay 10x the property taxes of someone making 50k.”

    Actually, that’s probably close to true, at least on average. Someone making $500k will likely have a home worth about 10x the value of the home someone making $50k has. You’re right that the curve is probably not linear across its entire range; it’s probably a ln(x) curve at some point… but I have to think that across most of the “normal” range of incomes, it’s pretty close to linear…

  24. Alaska is the only state that pays you. Each permanent state resident gets a dividend each year. 2011 the rate is $1174.

    Most Alaskans do not pay sales tax. The state of Alaska does not have a sales tax. Individual municipalities can have sales taxes and many do. They seem to be publishing an average or median rate for local sales taxes. Half of Alaskas population lives in Anchorage which does not have a sales tax.

  25. The shading sucks – Oregon has no sales tax, but gets a shade that looks just like Wyoming with 5%, but the states that have no income tax get no shading.
    Yes, I’m in Oregon…

  26. ParatrooperJJ says

    @Reader – Reed Hastings can write a check to the Treasury anytime he wants. The fact that he hasn’t, says volumes….

  27. One thing these maps do not factor in is fees: this is another way for states to take in revenue. Fees are things like vehicle registration, permits, park use fees, and university tuition I think. California lost 4-6 billion each year when Governor Schwarzenegger lowered the vehicle license fee. If you don’t account for fees, California’s tax is 9th highest in the nation (2000), if you do take into account fees then California ranks middle of the states, which is kind of interesting if you consider that we probably have to pay quite a bit more for teachers, firefighters, etc. because wages (and housing) are higher here.

    The study mentioned in this article breaks down state and local taxes (but not fees, I think) by income brackets, which is kind of cool. But it’s fairly dated.

  28. @ Heather: the second SFGate story you list is from 2003, but he study referenced in it has since been updated (2009) and is available at:

  29. “Reed Hastings can write a check to the Treasury anytime he wants. The fact that he hasn’t, says volumes….”

    Writing a check to the government is not a prerequisite for voicing an opinion on how our taxes ought to work. Not donating money to government doesn’t disqualify someones opinion that some taxes should be higher.

  30. These median property taxes mainly reflect the fact that property is much more expensive in urbanized/suburban counties than rural areas, so it’s not very informative. What you need is also a map showing the % rate, not just the median amount, which gives you no idea whether comparable urbanized areas are taxed at similar rates or not. California has a relatively low property tax rate, but since land values are high, this is not reflected in the “median” property tax.

  31. There’s no sales tax in Oregon?

  32. Nope, no sales tax in Oregon!

  33. In MA you couldn’t possibly publish all the property tax rates since they vary by town. @Jim, I’m tired of rich people whining that the government isn’t taking enough money from them. And even more tired of everyone else complaining that the rich don’t pay their fair share. The top 1% pay more than the bottom 80% combined, and the bottom 48% pay nothing. If you have extra laying around and want to send it to the government, go right ahead. In MA you have the option to pay a higher state income tax rate and the percentage of people that actually do is less than 1/25th of 1%.

  34. Just a little word of advice: is NOT a government entity. is a government agency so please refer there and avoid the ultra-conservative think tank known as Tax Foundation

  35. *If* you are looking at TOTAL taxes paid (sales, property, income, excise, etc.), it is a far different story than certain radio entertainers, “news” channels and libertarians constantly bleat about. Income tax is only a portion of everybody’s tax bill (and of government revenue).

    To cite only income tax is a bit like a football fan only citing passing yards and ignoring everything else, including the final score.

  36. I think a better approach to all this confusion in taxes is that government just take what we make and determine our pay from there and we won’t have to pay taxes on the state or local level at all. Keep it simple and fair and I think society would run better. It is not fair that someone who earns over a million dollars a year should be able to keep all that money when there are those who need that money more than they do. It should all be shared and we all prosper. Many other countries have done this and they are much better off than the US. It just isn’t fair that a teacher doesn’t make as much as someone who works in financials. Folk’s its about time we level the playing field for everyone. Perhaps it is time for the President to take over companies and this would be more fair.

  37. @ Ivan. Communism & socialism have proven ineffective. Take a look a China, Russia, Etc. How do their common people compare to the elitists? Not well. Very poor, under educated, frequent human rights violations, etc. Like that economic structure? Than move there!

    “It is not fair that someone who earns over a million dollars a year should be able to keep all that money when there are those who need that money more than they do.”

    Why not? they earned it. Using this faulty logic if I make less $$ than you and have more kids you should be contributing to me. You willing to do that? Thought not.

    “It just isn’t fair that a teacher doesn’t make as much as someone who works in financials.”

    Why not? That teacher could have just as easily become a banker if money was their objective.

    All this “not fair” talk sounds like children who want more but don’t want to earn it.

  38. Hey I’m in Tennessee and talk about a screwed up state. The only thing TN is #1 in is taxing the citizens. But then we get the priviledge of listening to our governor Bill Fudd and you don’t. D’ats all folks!

  39. Taxing is Stealing, even by any other name…even if it is ‘Legal’.
    Apparently people have become so deluded and given up their liberty and individuality for the illusion of collectivism and perpetual (in)voluntary servitude.
    Most are so closed minded they are unable to perceive a voluntary system based on contribution, but instead defend the current ‘take and disperse’…then ‘take more’…until there is no more left to take. Socialism, Communism, Fascism. Definitely not a Republic (anymore) nor a Democracy.

  40. I am so tired of listening to people complaining about paying taxes. Go purchase an island, build your own roads, schools, airports, and grow your own food. Get a life.

  41. Ours is 6 percent in SC. We lived there 14 years and moved last year for my new job. We decided to rent the house. Formerly our tax bill was about $1k but now it has more than quadrupled to more than $4k. I have been in a conversation with the Lexington Co. Auditor who has been very informative but not very satisfying. Has anyone else been though this? I am hiring an appraiser and preparing to put it on the market. Thank G. our lease allows it.

  42. We own our home and looking to retire in the next few years but it cost us $4600 a yr currently in property taxes, you add insuance at another $ 1900 a yr and we are not talking utilites and upkeep to keep our current roof over our heads now seems impossible in our retirement years. Sad we might have to move to have a place to live in a few years or Texas will put a lein on our house then finally sell it on the courthouse steps for back taxes. WE get city and maybe county taxes froze at age 65, but school taxes are what cost so much and keep going up. We pay hospital district tax, county college tax, and a big list in our tax bill each year. We also own a small commercial property made of metal in an industrial area and pay an additional $8600 a year for that too. So between taxes and insurance I work for that. We at least dont pay state income tax but our city sales tax rates are 8.25% . I pay $65 for my car license and we have inspections yearly at around $40. I was once on a boat with a guy from europe and said you US people dont pay much tax! I stated listing all the taxes we do pay and he had no idea but does now!

  43. @Diane, if you own a home that has taxes at 4600/yr, and you have a concern about how to pay those taxes, then that home is too fancy. Just curious where that house is and how much it is worth. Also, dont you think you would move to something smaller once you retire?

  44. jim – “Not donating money to government doesn’t disqualify someones opinion that some taxes should be higher.”

    Yes it does disqualify their opinion because it shows they are a hypocrite. It’s like saying we should all give up cars and then continuing to drive them.

  45. Gonna Move says

    Junction City (Geary County), Kansas:
    Total sales tax: 9.9%
    My property tax on a house I bought 5 years ago for $40,000 and they appraise at $70,000 = $1300 a year
    Vehicle property tax annually, yes.
    Income tax: 6.45%
    These little hick, hillbilly greedy bums in the middle of po-dunk Kansas tax you the skin and bones!

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