Visualizing Unequal State Tax Burdens Across America

What percentage of your income goes into Uncle Sam’s pocket?

Your answer will vary depending on how much you earn. Data shows that low and middle-income families pay a much greater share of their income towards state and local taxes than wealthy families.

Today’s visualization uses data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) to map the effective tax rates—or taxes paid as a share of family income—across income groups at the state and local level.

Crunching the Numbers

The data reflects the effect of tax changes enacted through September 10, 2018, using 2015 income levels (the latest year for available, detailed income data). Both single and married tax filers are included, while elderly taxpayers, dependent filers, and those with negative incomes are excluded.

Taxes Included
The report includes the state and local taxes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Taxes are broken into 3 broad groups:

  • Consumption taxes – general sales taxes and specialized excise taxes
  • Property taxes – including taxes on homes, businesses, and motor vehicles
  • Income taxes – paid by individuals and businesses

Federal taxes are not considered.

Income Included

The report includes both taxable and tax-exempt income such as worker’s compensation benefits. It also includes estimates for the amount of unreported income.

Which States Have the Most Unequal Tax Burdens?

Across the U.S., there is a wide disparity in how taxes affect different income groups. Here’s how it all breaks down, ranked in order of tax system inequality:

Total State and Local Taxes As a Share of Income
By State and Income Group

1 Washington 17.8% 10.4% 3.0%
2 Texas 13.0% 9.4% 3.1%
3 Florida 12.7% 7.7% 2.3%
4 South Dakota 11.2% 8.4% 2.5%
5 Nevada 10.2% 7.1% 1.9%
6 Tennessee 10.5% 8.1% 2.8%
7 Pennsylvania 13.8% 10.8% 6.0%
8 Illinois 14.4% 12.2% 7.4%
9 Oklahoma 13.2% 10.3% 6.2%
10 Wyoming 9.6% 6.9% 2.6%
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