On our Services page you can see that we service “All States(where required)” and not “all 50 States” or even “all 50 States plus the District of Columbia and all US Territories”. This is because not all states have an income tax.
The seven states that do not have an income tax are: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
Not having an income tax would make these sound like perfect places to live and do business, however, there is a catch.
First off, Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming are among the 5 least populous states. All three are very large in area which means the low population density means there are many areas that are uninhabitable.
Up next is Washington, a somewhat populous state with a great metropolitan area in Seattle as well as the affluent town of Redding, home of Microsoft.
After Washington is a group of Florida and Texas, both of which are great retirement destinations with warm climates(aside from the wonderful snow storms in Texas now).
The final income tax free state is Nevada, home of Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the US, a major reason why Nevada’s state treasury can afford to operate without an income tax.
So let us look at the states individually and see the pros and cons of living without an income tax. Is it worth it? What other costs make up for the lack of an income tax?
Some of the positives of living in Alaska aside from the gorgeous Summers are the monetary incentives. Did you know that residents of Alaska are actually given a monetary incentive to live in the “Last Frontier” known as the “Alaska Permanent Fund”?
This fund is only available to full year residents of Alaska and is an encouragement for citizens to brave the brutal Winters and live and work here. Despite this fund Alaska has some of the highest costs of living from the necessities(a gallon of milk can cost over $10, almost 5x the national average) to the indulgences(the liquor tax is about $13/gallon).
As you can see the lack of income tax is made up for in desolate Winters, high sales taxes and high excise taxes.
Known for its beaches and Disney World, Florida is a great destination for families, partiers and most of all, retirees.
The recent Recession though, has hit Florida hard, especially in the job market. With double-digit unemployment as well as some of the worst hit housing markets for foreclosures and a steep drop in housing prices Florida’s economy took a beating.
This doesn’t even factor in the worst part about Florida, the annual hurricane season, which doesn’t bother locals who are accustomed to this natural disaster as much as those who emigrate here.
Finally, the “catch” to no income tax is the relatively high sales tax, gas tax and liquor tax. All of which more than make up for the lack of a state income tax.
Despite the gambling tax making up some of the gap in income tax revenue lost, Nevada, home of “Sin City”, is not without sin.
Much like Florida it has the same issues of a depressed housing market, high unemployment and high sales taxes. The plus side is that there is a high median income for those who are employed.
Bottom line, if you’re not an entertainer, gaming mogul or a dealer, Nevada might not be right for you, despite the lack of a state income tax.
Grouped with Alaska when it comes to population, it differs in the fact that South Dakota is among the lowest in unemployment rates and boasts a high median income.
However, in South Dakota’s largest city, Sioux Falls, the issue of under-employment comes to mind. Yes there is low unemployment, however, with the highest density of restaurants per capita, a lot of employees are working for minimum wage and barely meeting basic costs of living.
This is in stark contrast to the salaries and bonuses of executives at some of the financial giants such as Citigroup and Wells Fargo who are based here due to the business incentives for holding operations in South Dakota.
Everything’s bigger in Texas! From the steaks to the ranches to the Cadillacs it is all big. Without an income tax and better yet, a great climate for most of the year as well as cheap property it sounds like a great place to live.
There is a catch. From high sales taxes to high property taxes, the Lone Star State more than makes up for its lack of income tax. In addition, despite deregulation over 15 years ago, the energy costs are still sky-high.
With beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest Washington is a great place to live. Add to it business giants like Amazon and Microsoft and it is a great place to work. The Seattle area has plenty do, however, as is the case with this entire article, there is a catch.
Aside from the high unemployment and sales tax, there are other taxes that are higher than normal such as property taxes. Looking at the bottom line, WA might not be the best financial decision, unless you have the wealth of Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founders of Microsoft and Amazon, respectively.
Saving the best for last, the least-populated state, Wyoming.
Aside from having many wide-open, desolate spaces, WY is starting to feel the pain of the depressed economy with rising unemployment.
In addition, it boasts the second highest tax burden per capita at $2,973.87, behind Hawaii at $3,050.03. This shows that the lack of income taxes is more than made up for in other taxes.
The verdict: No state income tax comes with a catch. In addition, one must not forget that there is still a Federal income tax to pay that is the same no matter where you live. Consider the big picture when relocating and if you do live in a no income tax state it is worth your while to consult with a tax professional such as one of our Tax Patriots to make sure you are getting the best deal on your taxes.