Even as Data Delivers a Crushing Blow, the Idea of Taxachusetts Dies Hard

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, an independent, non-partisan group of experts on state spending, released a report last week showing that the amount of Massachusetts taxes we pay as a share of our total personal incomes is below the national average.  

Based on data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau, the report said, “The amount of state and local taxes paid in Massachusetts as a share of total personal income was 10.37 percent in FY 2011.  By this measure, Massachusetts had lower taxes than 20 other states and was below the national average of 10.56 percent.”

At 20 percent, Alaska is the state with the highest percentage of state and local taxes as a share of total personal income.  South Dakota has the lowest percentage, 7 percent.   

Had Massachusetts taxes been at the national average in FY 2011, state and local governments would have raised an additional $650 million in that fiscal year, according to the report, which may be found at:

In a press release announcing the report, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said, “Measuring taxes in this way (as a percentage of personal income) provides the most accurate comparisons.”

Listen to most people today on the topic of taxes and you’ll hear that we pay too much and that our government wastes too much money.

There’s no objective definition of too much taxes or too much governmental waste, so it’s hard to refute that view.

You rarely if ever  hear someone say that, considering all the advantages we have as free citizens of Massachusetts and the United States, the price we pay in taxes is a pretty good deal overall.

This Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center report gives a boost to the pretty-good-deal-overall argument.  But don’t expect it to change many minds who are convinced otherwise. 

Feelings aren’t easily changed, especially when they've been held for a very long time.  And no one, least of all me, is ever going to enjoy the experience of paying taxes.

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