New York and California Suck For Taxpayers, and For Freedom


United States

New York and California are the worst and second worst states in terms of tax burden, in what is less than shocking news from the financial website, WalletHub. The ranking tallies annual state and local taxes, and puts the Golden State and the Empire State at the bottom of the heap, with Wyoming and Alaska at the top as the two least burdensome states for taxpapers in a listing that also includes the District of Columbia (number 37, if you're curious).

In and of itself, the ranking is helpful—but it's also helpful to cross-reference the tax ranking with separate rankings of economic liberty and overall freedom to see how they correlate. The result is a handy guide to places to live—or avoid like the plague.

For its tax rankings, WalletHub compared: real estate tax, state income tax, local income tax, vehicle property tax, vehicle sales tax, sales and use tax, fuel tax, alcohol tax, food tax, and telecom tax.

The five top-ranked states (least burdensome) are:

1. Wyoming: $2,365
2. Alaska: $2,791
3. Nevada: $3,370
4. Florida: $3,648
5. South Dakota: $3,766

The five at the bottom are:

47. Illinois: $9,006
48. Connecticut: $9,099
49. Nebraska: $9,450
50. California: $9,509
51. New York: $9,718

Adjusting for cost of living has some effect—Illinois rises to 38, and Nebraska to 37—but those are the biggest adjustments at the top and bottom, while D.C. and Hawaii plummet in the rankings. But those are the biggest shifts.


What's interesting, though, is how the WalletHub rankings compare to the Mercatus Center's state-by-state ratings of personal and economic freedom. Mercatus scores each state on over 200 issues encompassing fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom. These include tax burden, property rights, marijuana laws, gun restrictions, government spending, occupational licensing, marriage freedom, and many more concerns.

Obviously, the final results of such rankings depend to some extent on how you weight each issue, and there's a lot of subjectivity inherent in such comparisons. But using Mercatus's overall score, the top five states for freedom are:

1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
3. Tenessee
4. New Hampshire
5. Oklahoma

And the bottom of the barrel are:

46. Rhode Island
47. Hawaii
48. New Jersey
49. California
50. New York

As with the WalletHub rankings, you can hover your pointer over each state for scores.

My takeaway, for what it's worth: Stay the hell out of New York and California.