1. TurboTax /
  2. Tax Calculators & Tips /
  3. Tax Tips Guides & Videos /
  4. State Taxes /
  5. Worst Tax States When on a Tight Budget

Worst Tax States When on a Tight Budget

Updated for Tax Year 2018


OVERVIEW

State tax structures are highly complex and can eat at your personal finances in a variety of ways that aren't immediately obvious.


Bearing the burden of government

Another way to view tax burdens is the proportion of its income that comes from residents, and the Tax Foundation ranks states in this fashion. The states with the lowest individual tax burdens tend to be in the South and West, although California imposes one of the highest burdens, with 11.2 percent of state income generated by individual taxes. That’s a notch below New York’s 12.8 percent, which leads the nation. New York's reliance on taxes nearly doubles Alaska's, which, at 7 percent, is the least burdensome state, according to the foundation.

Then again, a state's overall level of tax dependency doesn't necessarily correlate with the relative burden it places on low-income residents. Five of the foundation's least tax-dependent states are among the most "regressive" states in the nation, meaning the bottom 20 percent of earners bear the largest burden as a percentage of earnings, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy's study.

Taking the findings of the Institute and Tax Foundation together reveals that Nevada, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and South Dakota residents as a whole pay relatively little to their state capitals, but residents who pay most in those states—as a percentage of income—are those who can least afford it.

And, despite its heavy reliance on taxes, New York is one of least regressive states in the nation, according to the institute. That's because of its "generous" earned income tax credits and high top rates on income taxes, the study states.

Sales taxes: budget busting or neutral?

It’s also worth noting that two states the Tax Foundation ranks as least burdensome to residents, Tennessee and Louisiana, have some of the nation’s highest sales taxes, which some economists believe are disproportionately harmful to the poor.

Tennessee’s combined state and average local sales tax rate of 9.43 percent is one of the highest among states, and yet it is 48th least dependent on residents for taxes, according to the foundation. Similarly, Louisiana residents pay the third-highest sales tax rate even though the state ranks 47th in the overall burden it places on residents.

This is possible because those states lean heavily on sales tax while forgoing other types of taxes: Tennessee has no income tax, and Louisiana’s property taxes are extraordinarily low, Drenkard says. “The states with the highest sales taxes, those are the ones that probably fall hardest on low-income individuals,” Drenkard says.

At the same time, Drenkard cautions against a black-and-white view that sales taxes automatically affect the poor more than others. Another school of thought is that sales taxes become less burdensome as people move up professionally and have more budget flexibility. The sales tax is actually neutral over the long haul, he says.

The hidden burden of property taxes

Property taxes are an area that all residents should note, whether or not they own property, Drenkard says. “Often it’s construed that property tax is paid by high-income individuals, when in fact we all pay property taxes because they are capitalized into rent,” Drenkard says.

Income tax

Of course, for some, the individual income tax trumps all else. In that case, look to Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. In these states taxpayers keep all they earn (excluding federal taxes, of course), even if they pay more for other life necessities, such as food and shelter. Conversely, Hawaii, Oregon, California, Rhode Island, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Maine have the highest income tax rates.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $59.99$39.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File:TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. $0 federal (for simple tax returns) + $0 state + $0 to file offer only available with TurboTax Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Live Self-Employed: To receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed through 4/30/20, you must pay for your 2018 TurboTax Self-Employed or TurboTax Live return by 4/15/19 and sign-in and access your QuickBooks Self-Employed account via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax at least twice by 7/15/19. You will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 4/30/20 for another year at the then-current subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison. Offer not valid for existing QuickBooks Self-Employed subscribers already on a payment plan.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15.3%) for tax year 2018. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • TurboTax Live Reviews: Displayed reviews are for the TurboTax Live standalone service from Tax Year 2017 and not for the new Turbo Tax product / TurboTax Live bundle available for Tax Year 2018.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Help and Support: Access to a TurboTax specialist is included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed and TurboTax Live; not included with Free Edition (but is available as an upgrade). TurboTax specialists are available to provide general customer help and support using the TurboTax product. SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Advice, Expert Review and TurboTax Live: Access to tax advice and Expert Review (the ability to have a Tax Expert review and/or sign your tax return) is included with TurboTax Live or as an upgrade from another version, and available through December 31, 2019. These services are provided only by credentialed CPAs, EAs or tax attorneys. Some tax topics or situations may not be included as part of this service, which shall be determined in the tax expert’s sole discretion. In the event your return is reviewed by a tax expert and requires a significant level of tax advice or actual preparation, the tax expert may be required to sign your return as the preparer at which point they will assume primary responsibility for the preparation of your return (payment by the federal refund not available when tax expert signs your return). On-screen help is available on a desktop, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Unlimited access to TurboTax Live CPAs and EAs refers to an unlimited quantity of contacts available to each customer, but does not refer to hours of operation or service coverage. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access, Smart Insights and My Docs features: Included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or with PLUS benefits. Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available through 10/31/2020. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • Easy Online Amend: Included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or with PLUS benefits. Make changes to your 2018 tax return online for up to 3 years after it has been filed and accepted by the IRS through 10/31/2021. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2017 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • #1 rated online tax prep provider: Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com January 29, 2018.
  • Get tips from Turbo based on your tax and credit data to help get you to where you want to be: Tax and credit data accessed upon your consent.
  • TURBOTAX GUARANTEES

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest.
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee - or Your Money Back: If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method, we'll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid. TurboTax Online Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $14.99 and a refund of your state purchase price paid.
  • 100% Accurate Expert Approved Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty (or interest) because of an error that a TurboTax CPA, EA, or Tax Attorney made while providing topic-specific tax advice, a section review, or acting as a signed preparer for your return, we'll pay you the penalty and interest.
  • Audit Support Guarantee: If you received an audit letter based on your 2018 TurboTax return and are not satisfied with how we responded to your inquiry, we’ll refund the applicable TurboTax federal 1040 and/or state purchase price you paid. TurboTax Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $14.99 and a refund of your state purchase price paid. We will not represent you or provide legal advice. Excludes TurboTax Business.
  • TurboTax Free Guarantee: $0 Federal + $0 State + $0 To File offer is available for simple tax returns with TurboTax Free Edition. A simple tax return is Form 1040 only, with no attached schedules.
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed:
    • If you use TurboTax Online or Mobile:
      Satisfaction Guaranteed — or you don't pay. You may use TurboTax Online without charge up to the point you decide to print or electronically file your tax return. Printing or electronically filing your return reflects your satisfaction with TurboTax Online, at which time you will be required to pay or register for the product.
    • If you bought or downloaded TurboTax from a retailer:
      Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it to Intuit within 60 days of purchase with your dated receipt for a full refund.
    • If you bought or downloaded TurboTax directly from us:
      Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it within 60 days of shipment with your dated receipt for a full refund (excluding shipping & handling).
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2017 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; may require a free Intuit online account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2016 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2014 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.