Learn Your State's Tax Rate Before You File State Taxes

Thirty-three states use a progressive (graduated) tax system that resembles the federal government's income tax structure. The number of tax brackets in these states tends to be lower than the number of federal brackets and the actual tax rates. In some states such as Kansas they maintain just two tax brackets, in others such as California and Missouri they have up to 10 brackets.

State Tax Rates

California has one of the highest state tax rates in the country. The top tax rate is 12.3%. It also imposes an additional 1% tax on incomes over one million dollars.

Of states with an income tax (seven states do not collect an income tax), North Dakota has one of the lowest tax rates. The top tax rate in this state is just 2.9%.

The following is a list of individual U.S. state tax rates as of 2016:

State                            Low             High
Alabama                       2.0                5.0
Alaska                             --                   --
Arizona                       2.59              4.54
Arkansas                       0.9                6.9
California                      1.0               12.3 (13.3% with the 1% surtax on incomes over $1 million)
Colorado                    4.63              4.63
Connecticut                  3.0              6.99
Delaware                         0                6.6
District of Columbia     4.0              8.95
Florida                            --                   --
Georgia                        1.0                6.0
Hawaii                          1.4              8.25
Idaho                            1.6                7.4
Illinois                         3.75              3.75
Indiana                         3.3                3.3
Iowa                           0.36              8.98
Kansas                          2.7                4.6
Kentucky                      2.0                6.0
Louisiana                      2.0                6.0
Maine                           5.8              7.15
Maryland                      2.0              5.75
Massachusetts             5.1                5.1
Michigan                    4.25              4.25
Minnesota                  5.35              9.85
Mississippi                    3.0                5.0
Missouri                       1.5                6.0
Montana                      1.0                6.9
Nebraska                    2.46              6.84
Nevada                           --                   --
New Hampshire           5.0                 5.0 (dividends and interest only)
New Jersey                   1.4              8.97
New Mexico                 1.7                4.9
New York                      4.0              8.82
North Carolina           5.75              5.75
North Dakota               1.1                2.9
Ohio                         0.495            4.997
Oklahoma                    0.5                5.0
Oregon                         5.0                9.9
Pennsylvania              3.07              3.07
Rhode Island              3.75              5.99
South Carolina                0                7.0
South Dakota                  --                   --
Tennessee                    6.0                 6.0 (dividends and interest only)
Texas                              --                   --
Utah                             5.0                5.0
Vermont                     3.55              8.95
Virginia                         2.0              5.75
Washington                    --                   --
West Virginia               3.0                6.5
Wisconsin                     4.0              7.65
Wyoming                        --                   --

The following eight states impose a single "flat" tax rate:

Colorado (4.63%)
Illinois (3.75%)
Indiana (3.3%)
Massachusetts (5.10%)
Michigan (4.25%)
North Carolina (5.75%)
Pennsylvania (3.07%)
Utah (5.0%)

States with lower income tax rates as well as tax-free states often supplement state revenue through taxing consumption, property, entertainment and other means.

The Five Worst States for Taxes

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US household pays more than $5,700 in federal income taxes per year. While virtually all Americans are assessed the same federal income tax rates regardless of where they live, there are substantial variations in how much they are taxed by state and local governments.

The five states with the highest top tax rate are California, Hawaii, Oregon, Minnesota, and Iowa. Besides the rates themselves there are also variations in the income tax brackets used by many states.

While 33 states (34 if you include the District of Columbia) assess a graduated income tax based on income brackets, eight states levy a flat percentage regardless of salary. Tennessee and New Hampshire also use a flat rate but only on dividends and interest. They do not tax W-2 wages. Seven states—Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming—do not have a state income tax at all.

States Compared by "Effective Tax Rates"

To accurately calculate the "effective tax rate," property taxes, school taxes, sales taxes and levies on such expenses as vehicle registration must be included. Using this, taxpayers in the Northeast and Midwest generally have the highest "effective tax rate," while those living in the South and parts of the West have the lowest. According to the US Tax Foundation and the US Bureau of Labor, taxpayers in these five states shoulder the biggest tax burdens:

  1. Illinois: Residents pay an "effective tax rate" of 14.54 percent—or 14.5 cents per dollar of income.
  2. Nebraska: 13.8 percent.
  3. Wisconsin: 13.6 percent.
  4. New York: 13.58 percent.
  5. Rhode Island: 13.57 percent.

By the same standards, the five "best" states for taxpayers are Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada Florida and South Dakota. Not surprising, none of these have a state income tax.

Note: States & U.S. territories may make changes to their tax laws with little notice. We do our best to keep this information up-to-date, but it is provided on an "AS IS" basis. For more see our terms.

Q&A: Where is my state income tax refund?

Many states now offer either online or an automated telephone number to check the status of your state tax refund. In most cases, you must wait at least 72 hours (when you file electronically) or 4 weeks (when mailing) before checking the status of your state refund. In order to inquire about a refund you must have your social security number, the tax year in question, and the amount of the expected refund.

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