Forbes List Of Highest-Taxed States Lists California

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The Forbes list of states that tax their citizens the most is out!  And California ranks ... well, California isn't even on the list.

Forbes: Where Americans Are Taxed Most:
10. Pennsylvania (not California)
9. Wyoming (not California)
8. Washington (not California)
7. Massachusetts (not California)
6. New York (not California)
5. New Jersey (not California)
4. Minnesota (not California)
3. Connecticut (not California)
2. Hawaii (not California)

Drum roll ....

... keep scrolling ...

--- And the winner is ...

1. Vermont (NOT CALIFORNIA!)

So yesterday I'm driving and KGO radio has a show about the "tax revolt" that is "taking place all over California," with people rising up and having "tea parties" to protest the "incredibly high taxes" in California.  Here is KGO's program listing:

2 PM - Growing Anti-Tax Revolt in California? And What About Prop 13?

Taking inspiration from a landmark 1970s tax revolt, a determined group of activists say the moment is right for another voter uprising in California, where recession-battered residents have been hit with the highest income and sales tax rates in the nation. And like Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure that transformed the state's political landscape and ignited tax-reform movements nationwide, they see the next backlash coming not from either major political party, but from the people. How real is the latest anti-tax sentiment and has Prop 13 run it's course?
Guest: John Coupal, president Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Mr. Coupal was on the show to say that California is the highest-taxing state, and state taxes should be lower, and the government wastes all the money it takes in, and can't be trusted, and is too big.  He talked about how other states get by with lower taxes while providing better services than California. He said, for example, that there is no income tax at all in Texas -- without mentioning that Texas taxes oil taken out of the ground while California doesn't.  He said that California spends more on schools than any other state, and called for "school choice" -- which is getting rid of public schools and only having education for those who can afford it.

He said a lot of things that turn out not to be factual if you look into them.  But you can't bother be factual and argue for lower taxes and spending.  As Dave Dayen points out at Calitics,

"Right now we're at the bottom of per capita spending in almost every major category - 44th in health care, 47th in per-pupil education spending, dead last in highway spending and 46th in capital investment among all states."   
But here's the thing.  HE was on the radio, telling Californians that we are the highest-taxing and spending more on schools, etc. than any other state.  And the other side was not on the radio telling Californians the truth.  So he wins. 

Californians don't really have much choice except to believe the anti-tax, anti-government, pro-corporate arguments because they are not hearing anything else

This was just one radio show of the hundreds of radio shows every month that repeat this message.  And the newspapers repeat it.  And the TV shows repeat it.  And there are even public speakers, funded to go from civic group to civic group around the state to repeat this message!

Why is it that he was on the radio and the other side was not?  Because there are so few "other side" organizations for radio stations to call on, funded, with people trained and ready to talk on the radio and TV, write columns, speak to public groups, and generally make the case that government serves a purpose, roads and schools and public safety and are beneficial and that democracy is better than rule by corporations.  Corporations are enabled by our laws to amass incredible sums of money with little oversight, and are using some of that money to influence the state's policies, always to further reduce oversight and amass ever greater power.  That money leaks out of the corporations and into the political system, while pro-democracy organizations have few sources of funding.  

The result is that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is very well funded and is widely quoted in the media. Organization that makes the case for government and democracy are not.  And democracy in California is the loser.  So if we think we're going to be able to persuade Californians to overturn the 2/3 vote requirement for a budget or to increase taxes, we're going to have to come out swinging... At the moment, we don't even have a batter at the plate.

Great Blog. We moved to San Diego county fron CT and NEVER do I think that this state is "highly taxed" It is all about ignorant and uninformed people whining about THEIR vortex of the universe - "California" and have never lived anywhere else. We also lived in NJ - another one of the highest taxed states in the country. Both CT & NJ are very high income states, but the cost of living there is definitely higher than the area of "California" I live in. Where else can I go to have my real estate value increase by 300% and my property tax NOT increase along with the value????
(and I have no plans to sell my home or ever leave the area. Where else can anyone find the best climate in the US?


That Forbes article is just wrong.

Vermont does have 9.5 has their highest income tax but now we have 9.55 as our highest.. and a 1% surcharge over one million. Regardless in Vermont you achieve 9.5 at about 357,000, we achieve 9.55 for a single person at 47,000 or about every single person that has a decent job.

Vermont has a 6% base rate for sales tax, we have 8.25%

Vermont property tax is 1.36 and california is 1% how ever Mello Roos can be upto 100% or a total of 2% the property tax. Area's with Mello Roos tax are normally area's that attract new growth and younger families.

In no way, shape or form is Vermont higher than we are.


Also check your facts on education we are ranked 29th according the US Census 2005-2006 which are the last statistics published. And since then we spend approx 1000.00 more per student.

And to Linda G. Back something up with a fact now and again, before you talk about ignorant and uniformed.

NJ rate after our 9.55 after 47k is 5.525 over 40k, 6.37 over 75k and 8.97 over 500k. sales tax is 7%. I can't figure out property tax. I know it's high but there isn't a clear formula. (this is the only reliable source on tax spending) 2008 California is the 6th highest state taxed per capita. Wait until 2009 and the highest tax increase by any state in this nations history is factored in.

Tax Foundation is the "tax freedom day" organization which promotes a libertarian, anti-tax, anti-government message.

They don't tell you that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. They don't tell you that when we defer taxes through tax cuts we have to make them up later, as we will be doing.

And when we defer through tax cuts for the rich and corporations (which really are tax cuts for the rich), the rest of us have to make them up eventually.


Wow, talk about Socialist diatribe.

If you want to quote from this Forbes article, please note the reliability of it. The article says that Hawaii has virtually no property tax income. That should be a shock to the millions of Hawaiians who paid about $2,500 per household last year.

We have an insatiable monster in Sacramento, that has doubled it's spending in the last 10 years, and has increased by 40% since Arnold was elected. We have run business and individuals out. (Tiger Woods, born and raised in Cypress California, now lives in Florida, which is 48th in most taxed States.) Our bonds have become the lowest rated of the 50 States. If taxing and spending were the answers, we (California) would be the financial example for other States instead of the seminar topic of how to screw things up.


So does anyone really think the state taxes in california are not high? Property taxes are insanely high for any new home buyer. Income taxes are high, and sales taxes just got higher. Last report I read showed people work till May to pay taxes. Really, you don't think that is too much? If you like high taxes, let me know you can pay some of mine.

The data is based on per capita, meaning total spending divided by the total population of the state. This can be misleading if you have a lot of people who do not produce. Yes taxes are lower in CA if you take into account the entire population. If you produce however, you pay. A better gauge should be the per capita tax burden on those who actually produce something. I would bet there is a huge portion of the population in CA who does not produce.


The Forbes data does not include any corporate taxes, which are ultimately paid by consumers. That doesn't make the data useless but it skews it.

Corporate taxes are NOT paid by consumers. This is a myth, and believe me I know a little about it having run a consumer products company for many years. Let me list some of the reasons that companies cannot pass taxes on to consumers:

Taxes are calculated at the end of the (fiscal) year, based on profits. They are calculated after costs are deducted.

A company already charges the maximum it can for its products. A profitable company has already calculated the best price to charge. If it could raise prices to cover profits, profits would then be higher, necessitating an additional price rise, which would further increase profits ... which could necessitate a further price increase ... and you see how silly this gets.

A company that is not profitable (and therefore not taxed) would supposedly have lower prices because it wasn't passing taxes to customers, which would supposedly give it an advantage over the profitable company, which

If a company was already charging the max it could, adding something to the price to cover taxes would increase prices beyond what a competitor is charging, which would lower profits, which would eliminate the supposed need to raise prices.

And, of course, it would have to know in advance how profitable it is going to be to do any of these...


Next up, an article about how California isn't really about to go bankrupt from overspending. I love how when it's pointed out that the list is just plain wrong, you respond with "W-well we pay high taxes for civilization!"

That's pretty weak. It's great that you think civilization comes to you from a bunch of stuffed shirts up in Sacramento who want to vote themselves endless bailouts out of our wallets whenever they screw up, but the rest of us know better.

Back in reality, many of the productive are moving OUT of California. Many businesses are leaving too. Civilization is actually being chased AWAY by the tax and spend clowns. The facts are, if the state government had only grown by the rate of inflation in the past few years, we'd now have a $15 billion SURPLUS. Instead, they grew government by over 40%, and we're in the black hole that we're in. But by all means, keep cheerleading to hand the drunken sailors in Sacramento YET ANOTHER credit card, even though they've maxed out all the others. No worries, your kids will foot the bill. REAL civilized.

what the Frobes list fails to mention is the Type of Tax for instance Washington whose number 8 on the list has no state income tax ( at the moment) but does hacve one of the largest sales tax. so the list in its current form could be flawed

YOUR WRONG, Vermont is the highest, thats the state average and you compare it with a certain part of California...Thats taxes are over 2% in Chittenden County which is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

Nice article which explains facts. You do though seem to attract commenters who do not deal with the facts as Forbes reports them.

Zack March: You are not addressing the facts. Over the rate of taxation in the overall economy of CA has declined over the last 40 years. We would not have a $15 billion surplus if government spending had kept up with inflation and population over the last 40 years. In fact our deficit would be larger.

Anonymous: You have your facts right in that you acknowledge that per capita taxation is relatively low in California. But I don't quite understand how you divide the state's population into "producers" and "non-producers." Are people who work in low wage jobs producers, and law firms "producers?"

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Johnson published on April 9, 2009 1:47 PM.

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