2017 State Business Tax Climate Index (Press Release)

September 27, 2016


2017 State Business Tax Climate Index
Wyoming #1 and New Jersey #50 on Tax Competitiveness

Washington, D.C. (Sept 28, 2016)—This morning, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation released the 13th annual State Business Tax Climate Index, which measures how well-structured each state’s tax code is by analyzing more than 100 variables in five tax categories: corporate, individual income, sales, property, and unemployment insurance. Wyoming once again takes first place with the most competitive tax code in the country, while New Jersey maintains its long-standing position at the bottom of the pack.

This year’s most competitive states include:

  1. Wyoming
  2. South Dakota
  3. Alaska
  4. Florida
  5. Nevada
  6. Montana
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Indiana
  9. Utah
  10. Oregon

This year’s least competitive states include:

41. Louisiana
42. Maryland
43. Connecticut
44. Rhode Island
45. Ohio
46. Minnesota
47. Vermont and D.C.
48. California
49. New York
50. New Jersey

States are penalized for overly complex, burdensome, and economically harmful tax codes and rewarded for transparent and neutral tax codes that do not distort business decisions. A state’s ranking can rise or fall significantly not only because of its own actions, but also because of reforms made in other states.

“Our goal with the State Business Tax Climate Index is to start a conversation between taxpayers and policymakers about how their states fare against the rest of the country,” said Tax Foundation Policy Analyst Jared Walczak. “While there are many ways to show how much a state collects in taxes, the Index is designed to show how well states structure their tax systems, and to provide a roadmap for improvement.”

The Index can also be used as a tool for identifying state tax trends. For instance, the report shows that a number of states are now opting to simplify their tax systems by consolidating individual income tax brackets, or even moving to a flat tax. Hawaii eliminated its top three individual income tax brackets in 2016 and reduced its top marginal rate from 11 to 8.25 percent, improving its overall rank from 30th to 27th. North Carolina moved to a flat individual income tax in 2014 and continues to phase in rate reductions, building on the success of its historic 2013 reforms and shoring up its place at 11th overall.

Another trend is the tendency for states to shift away from taxes on capital. Pennsylvania, for example, has now completely phased out its capital stock tax, boosting its property tax component ranking six places, from 38th to 32nd, and improving its overall state ranking from 28th to 24th.

“Substantive state tax reform has gained a lot of momentum over the past few years,” said Tax Foundation Director of State Projects Scott Drenkard. “The stagnation of our federal tax code means that policymakers are turning to state codes to boost their national and global competitiveness. The state codes are ripe for reform and it’s encouraging to see so many states taking action.”

Full Report: 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index

Media Assets: Download map, state-specifc press releases, full study & more here

Media Contact:
Colby Pastre
Marketing Project Manager
Tax Foundation
202-661-8088
csp@taxfoundation.org

The Tax Foundation is the nation’s leading independent tax policy research organization. Since 1937, our principled research, insightful analysis, and engaged experts have informed smarter tax policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

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