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New York tri-state region most dissatisfied with taxes

Staff writer |
Residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are the most likely of any state's residents to say the amount they pay in state taxes is "too high."

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Roughly three in four adults in each of these say their state taxes are too high, four times higher than the 19% saying this in Wyoming, whose residents are least likely to say their state taxes are too high.

While the states whose residents are most likely to say state taxes are too high include a fairly even mix of populous and less populous states, most of the states where residents are least likely to begrudge their taxes are small. The main exceptions to this are Florida and Texas, both highly populous U.S. states that boast no state income tax.

These findings are from a 50-state Gallup poll, conducted June-December 2013, that included at least 600 representative interviews with residents aged 18 and older in each state. They are based on respondents' answers to the question: "Do you consider the amount of state taxes you have to pay as too high, or not too high?"

On average, 50% of residents across all states say their taxes are too high. Nineteen states are within five percentage points of that figure. Seventeen states are above the average range, with six of these - New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Maryland - being well above the norm. Two-thirds or more in these states say their taxes are too high.

At the other end of the spectrum, 14 states are significantly less negative about their taxes than the 50-state average, with Nevada, South Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming - where fewer than one-third in each state say their taxes are too high - the least negative.

From a broad regional perspective, Americans' dissatisfaction with their own state's taxes tends to be highest in the Northeast, as residents in all states in this region except New Hampshire tilt negative. But several other states in which large majorities say taxes are too high are scattered around the country.

The states whose residents are least likely to say taxes are too high are primarily found in the Northern Plains, Rockies, and South, but Alaska, Delaware, and New Hampshire also belong in this group.

While there is some regionalism to Americans' satisfaction with their state taxes, a greater factor relating to residents' views of their state tax burden appears to be the taxes themselves. Those living in states with higher combined state and local tax burdens (including income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and inheritance taxes) are much more likely to say their state taxes are too high than are those living in states with relatively low tax burdens.

In particular, according to the most recent Tax Foundation estimates, residents in five states - New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Wisconsin - pay 11% or more of their income, on average, in state and local taxes. And Gallup's state data find 69% of the residents in these, on average, saying their state taxes are too high, well above the 50% average for all states.

By contrast, in Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana - the six states averaging less than 8% in state and local taxes - the average level of concern that taxes are too high is just 34%.

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