Any guess as to which state has the highest taxes in the nation? Well, it probably will come as no surprise to the people living there, but New York is where it. According to calculations from the Public Policy Institute based on U.S. Census Bureau data for the year 2002, when both state and local taxes are combined, the average New Yorker pays some 48 percent more in taxes than people in other states. Translated, that means each person is paying on average of $4,645 for the privilege of living in New York compared with a paltry $3,149 elsewhere.


You know what this means? If you live and work in New York, the tax per $1,000 of income is $131. Maine is second with $130. Of course, how many people live in Maine anyway? Then we get Wyoming with $122, Hawaii with $121, and Wisconsin coming in at $117. The U.S. average is $104. At the other end of the spectrum, who has the lowest tax? Try the good folks in Tennessee with $84. Must be all that Jack Daniels they're guzzling or selling. Then we have New Hampshire at $85, Alabama at $88, South Dakota at $90 (again, how many people live there?), and Oregon at $91.


By the way, New Jersey, for all my friends out there, you pay $104, the same as the national average. Still complaining, Otto?


If you then look at state and local taxes per person, the U.S. average as I said at the top of this show, is $3,149. Here we have New York again at the top with a preposterous $4,645, followed closely by our neighbor in Connecticut at $4,373, and our friends in New Jersey at $4,038. Rounding out the top five is Massachusetts at $3,721 and Minnesota at $3,673.


So, you're packing your bags for a move, eh? Well, head south to Alabama, which has the lowest number in the country, coming in at $2,170. Too far south? Move up to the whisky-drinking brood in Tennessee at $2,241, and if that's not good enough go over to Mississippi at $2,275. Again, rounding out the lowest five, we have Montana with $2,346 and then South Carolina at $2,336.


If you want to know what accounts for New York's number one ranking, consider the fact that the state's income tax is extraordinarily high. And then, toss in large numbers in property and other taxes to school districts, municipalities, and various governments within the state. Heck, it adds up to 85 percent more than the state average.


But, let's keep it all on the up and up. Putting California aside (which I'm beginning to think is really a separate country), the Empire State has the country's heaviest state debt burden amounting to $10,306 per person. Where's the blame? Try costs of health benefits, welfare, and education.


Normally, I wouldn't be that dismayed but I guess it strikes a little too close to home. Or is that an understatement? I live here.

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