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No matter how low, taxes are always too highPosted Friday, August 7, 2009, at 5:18 PM
A show of hands, please.
How many of you out there think taxes are too low?
Well, that's expected, isn't it?
Absolutely no one thinks taxes are too low. Even people who concede taxes are necessary are apt to think that taxes are much too high, or at least too high for them, but, of course, not too high for everyone else, especially the rich.
There's no getting around it -- Americans pay a lot of taxes. Even in the very few states with no income tax, there is almost always gas tax and sales tax. And then there are the "sin" taxes paid on cigarettes and alcohol. And personal property taxes and real estate taxes and everybody (well, almost everybody) pays federal income tax and other payroll taxes such as social security.
Thanks to the Web site MSN Money, statistics used in the following comparisons of taxes in the U.S. are easy to find at http://tinyurl.com/ysk8on and.
Taxes are like rats and cockroaches -- they're everywhere.
Some states don't assess any income tax. They are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. New Hampshire and Tennessee tax only dividend and interest income
And there are also states with no sales tax. They are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon.
Missouri, with both a state income tax and a sales tax, also has plenty of other taxes, like most states. But relative to the states around us, we're not doing badly at all.
Except for Oklahoma at 17.0 cents per gallon, Missouri's gas tax of 17.3 cents is the lowest around by quite a bit. Illinoisans pay 32.4 cents per gallon, almost twice as much as residents of the Show Me state. In Iowa, it's 22.0 cents per gallon, and in Kansas 25.0 cents per gallon.
State sales tax is pretty low, too. Tennessee residents pay 7.0 percent to Missouri's 4.225 percent. Oklahoma's bite is only a little more than the bite in Missouri at 4.5 percent, but the base rate in Illinois is 2 percent higher at 6.25 percent.
For a Bible Belt state, it's surprising that Missouri really doesn't press too hard on the so-called "sin" taxes. In Missouri, relative to other states, you don't pay much for your guilty pleasures. In fact, based on the amount of tax, Missouri is, by a wide margin, one of the cheapest places to buy beer or cigarettes. Oklahoma charges a tax of $1.03 per pack, Illinois gets 98.0 cents, and even Kansas charges 79.0 cents; Missouri practically gives away cigarettes at 17.0 cents per pack.
If "demon rum" is your preferred vice, you can get plenty of it in Missouri for a tax of only 0.06 per gallon, where in Oklahoma that particular "sin" will cost you 40 cents per gallon. In Nebraska, it's 31.0 cents and it's 21.0 cents in Arkansas.
Income tax is harder to compare, since the types of income taxed vary widely from state to state, but Missouri's top rate is 6.0 percent, compared to Iowa's 8.98 percent top rate or Arkansas' high of 7.0 percent.
And even though recent increases in assessments may be giving you heartburn, the fact is that Missouri residents have a big advantage in real estate tax, too.
The median tax in Missouri, based on a median home value of $123,100, is $1,012. That tax represents about 0.82 percent of the home's value. It'll cost you 1.96 percent of the median income for the state.
Contrast that with a median tax in Illinois of $2,904, based on a median value of $183,900, which is about 1.58 percent of the home's value, roughly double the amount in Missouri. Put another way, that's three times the tax, more or less, on only 1 ½ times the value of the home.
Or compare Missouri to Kansas, where the median tax is $1,337 and the median value of a home is $107,800. The tax is 30 percent higher, against a 12 percent lower value of the home.
Maybe you'd like to move to my home state of New Jersey, which claims the top spot in the 50 states for real estate taxes of $5,352 on a median home value of $333,900. The tax represents 1.60 percent of the home's value and eats up 6.75 percent of the average New Jersey homeowner's income.
You'll have to shell out 5.86 percent of your median income for property tax if you live in the number two state of New Hampshire, 5.07 percent in number three Vermont, and 5.0 percent in number four Connecticut, with Wisconsin filling in the number five spot at 4.79 percent.
Is that 1.96 percent rate in Missouri looking a little better? No?
Well, if you really want low property taxes, you can hustle on down to Louisiana, down at the very bottom of the list of the 50 states. Fight off the hurricanes, the heat and the humidity and pay only $175 in property taxes on a pre-Katrina median home value of $101,700, a mere 0.17 percent of the home's value and a tiny little bite of 0.37 percent of your new median income in the Pelican State of $46,933.
You want to be a Ragin' Cajun instead of a Missouri Tiger?
Aw, you don't really mean that.
Dude, come ON! Their team symbol is a chili pepper.
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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.