Time to talk about taxes
Don’t run! I promise, this will be neither a) a godawful political screed on how The Fedral Gubmit should or should not be dealing with your funds nor b) a dust-dry finance tract riddled with the kind of economic obscurities that would make Andy Dufresne doze off.
Instead, courtesy of Pew Charitable Trusts, here’s an easy-to-read breakdown of how and how much every state in the Union bring in their taxes.
8 flavors of taxes
Per Pew, state taxes come in eight conveniently color-coded flavors:
Personal income, the “ouch” that comes with the paycheck, the money taken out of what individual citizens earn.
Corporate income, the literal cost of doing business.
General sales, a little bit of extra money charged for (almost) everything. When by some weird, wee little number the price tag matcheth not the receipt, this is your guy.
Licenses, the little extra fee you pay for your official license to do anything worth licensing. Hunting, marriage, surgery: if you want the government to recognize that you can do it, pony up.
Other, where the tax code honors what makes your state… what’s a nice word? Special. What makes it special. Nevada skims about 8% of its annual revenue off casino and lottery winnings. That kind of thing.
Property, tax paid for the privilege of actually owning a thing, rather than borrowing it, renting it, or just generally hanging out with, on or by it.
Selective sales, tax applied to particular products as opposed to just everything. Rates are usually higher than general sales, and they’re frequently applied to things your state would rather you use less of. Alcohol, gasoline and tobacco are the big hitters.
Severance, the tax you pay for pulling nonrenewable resources out of a state so you can sell them, because then they’re not there anymore.
Matt’s Glossary of People Taking Your Money
What’s the value of Matt’s Glossary of People Taking Your Money, you ask?
The value is that understanding how the tax structure works, and above all what places do it in which ways, is how you keep as much of your coin as possible.
Try it like this
Imagine, if you will, the life of a prospector in North Dakota. I assume you have a mule, some overalls, one of those helmets with the little light on it (I have never been to North Dakota).
Like any self-respecting member of your profession, your dream is a comfy digging operation where you can cook your sourdough and play your harmonica in profitable peace.
Before you pound in your tent stakes, it might just be worth your time to know that your home state makes 41.8% of its tax revenue in severance tax, which is to say, taxes levied on your business model. Hop the border to Montana? 6.3%. Oh, and if you can find something to dig up in Iowa, guess what? No severance tax. At all.
That’s how it works everywhere
AG’s beloved home of Texas lives and dies by general sales tax: 62% of state tax revenue. There is no, repeat no, personal income tax at the state level. Instead, we charge 6% extra on everything. That makes Texas utterly rad if you roll with comparatively high income and comparatively few purchases.
By contrast, Oregon gets 70% of its state income from personal income tax.
But there’s no sales tax. If your lifestyle, business plan or both involve a whole lot of buying and selling, going Evergreen rather than Lone Star, much as I hate to say it, could be what it takes to bring your business to life.
That’s why this matters
“Taxes” aren’t one thing. They’re a field, a complex interaction of policies, and understanding how – and where – they work is make-or-break knowledge for any serious entrepreneur.
Dig in the right spot.