Improving the Connecticut Business Tax Climate
Special Report No. 144
Executive Summary The Tax Foundation’s 2006 edition of the State Business Tax Climate Index ranked Connecticut’s business tax climate as 39th best in the country. With only 11 states ranked worse, Connecticut should use its revenue surplus to improve its business tax climate.
Governor Rell has been on the right track with suggestions to eliminate the state estate tax and the corporate income surtax. She has also pushed to cut a local property tax that would force the state to reimburse localities. Predictably, some legislators would prefer to spend the surplus, and some have even talked about raising taxes. The Connecticut legislature should follow the Governor’s lead –– though not necessarily on the local property tax — and use the surplus as an opportunity to make fundamental changes to the state’s business tax climate.
The University of Connecticut has recently observed that the state enjoyed bigger job gains by cutting its statutory tax rate on corporations than by carving out special exemptions and deductions for targeting industries or firms. Similarly, the Tax Foundation has observed that states get a bigger boost by repealing a tax, even one that collects comparatively little revenue, than they get by enacting a small cut in a bigger tax. That’s because total repeal eases the administrative burden as well as the tax burden, and in the fierce interstate competition for business, no marketing tool is better than a zero rate.
The State Business Tax Climate Index points to two areas ripe for reform in Connecticut: sales taxes and wealth taxes. Specific changes are detailed below. If Connecticut had entered the current year with these changes already on the books, its ranking in the Index would have been 21st best overall instead of 39th, greatly improving Connecticut’s standing in the tax competition for new jobs.