A Study In Contrasts

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, trying to find just the right angle to present it without sounding like I’m bragging. But then I decided to hell with it.


The Tax Foundation put together a list of the 50 states in relation to their tax burden, and it had a bit of a surprise to me. Of the six New England states, four made the top ten most taxed, and one made the top ten of the least taxed.
The surprise was that Maine ranked #9, Vermont #8, Rhode Island #5, and Connecticut #3. What amazed me was that “Taxachusetts” didn’t make the top ten.


New Hampshire ranked #7 on the “good” list.Which is slightly disappointing, but if you exclude Alaska for blowing the curve, the entire top ten lies between 8.4% and 7.5% of total income being paid in taxes. (Alaska, which is tremendously rich in natural resources, scores 6.3%.) And the top ten run from 10.1% to 12.2%.


Oh, I just have to quote this:


New Hampshire “has no special revenue source from non-residents, but the citizens’ approval of limited government spending has kept the tax burden low,” according to the Tax Foundation, The state has a flat 5% income tax rate that only applies to dividend and interest income, but, effectively, no tax on wages, and as a result most residents don’t have to pay it. The state is also one of only five states that has no sales tax. This causes many people from outside of the state to travel to New Hampshire to purchase goods that are heavily taxed in their own states. Not all taxes in New Hampshire are low, however. The state has the third highest property tax rate in the country.


Part of the reason, I’ve longe believed, is because of our peculiar legislature. We are a small state, about 1.2 million people. But we have a very large legislature — 24 in the Senate, 400 in the House. So the odds that you know your legislator — or could readily get hold of them — is fairly high. I have three Representatives, and two of them are about 10 minutes walk from my home. So if inclined, I could show up at their door and tell them to knock it off if they displease me.


Further, there’s the pay scale of our elected representatives. Members of the General Court (that’s what we call the House and Senate) get paid a rather skimpy salary. $100.00 a year.


That’s right, one hundred dollars a year. Plus mileage, of course, and they get expenses covered, but no one is there making a living off of passing laws.


Which means we have a legislature made up of people who aren’t there to support themselves and their family, but giving up time from doing that. We don’t have “professional” legislators. So we end up with a lot of housewives, retirees, professionals, and whatnot. So they’re not overly inclined to raise their own taxes.


Plus, there’s our classic Yankee stubbornness and contrarianism. That is remarkably helpful, when you consider our neighbors — we’re surrounded by Vermonsters to the west, Hosers north, Maineiacs to the east, and Massholes south. We’re replete with bad examples, all showing us what not to do.


Most everyone is proud of their home state. (Yes, DJ, Texas beat us. But only by one-tenth of a percentage point. And that’s largely because we just recovered from four years of being a “blue” state.) But not everyone is as justified about it as we are.

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