Of course, I fully support efforts to eliminate the state income tax. Clearly this piece wants me to reconsider, as if I should be wowed by our number 23 ranking. Or as if I should feel uneasy that "competitor" states such as California rank higher.
Taxachusetts no more
EFFORTS TO tamp down antitax sentiment in Massachusetts got an unexpected boost last week: the small-government advocates at the National Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., issued a report showing that the state's tax burden has dropped a few notches this year. The epithet "Taxachusetts" has been difficult to shake, but the foundation report ranks the state 23d out of 50 for the bite state and local taxes take out of a resident's paycheck. That's just about the middle by anyone's calculation.
As incomes rise and taxes remain fairly stable, Massachusetts' standing improves. The report shows the tax burden here declining steadily since 2005, when Massachusetts ranked 18th among the states. Back in 1980, the year a property tax revolt fueled passage of Proposition 2 1/2, the state ranked second, just behind New York.
States with higher tax burdens include many considered competitors for jobs and skilled workers: California, North Carolina, and Virginia, for example. New Jersey has the highest tax burden of all.
To avoid statistical distortions, it is important to calculate taxes as a proportion of personal income, instead of just per person. States with lower incomes than Massachusetts may have somewhat lower tax rates, but the tax bill hurts more for poorer residents of Arkansas (which ranks 14th for tax burden) or Georgia (16th). It is somewhat akin to the wind-chill factor: the temperature (raw data) may say one thing, but what matters is how much the cold hurts.In November, voters will be faced with a ballot question to eliminate the state income tax. The tax foundation's report shows Massachusetts moving in the right direction. It should help inform a debate based on facts, not slogans.
This is unabashed propaganda. Denounce it, all.