Live in Northeast, pay through nose
The Midwest isn't always a bargain, either. And D.C. competes with them all.
By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( - Countless factors compel people to live in the Northeast: the four seasons, the culture, the corridors of power, that old New England charm.

But you'll never find Northeasterners cheering for their state and local taxes.

In its annual estimate of the state and local tax burden that will be borne by residents in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Tax Foundation found that five of the 10 least-friendly tax places in 2006 are in the Northeast: Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont. (See state-by-state rankings.)

The Foundation, a nonprofit policy research group, comes up with its rankings by measuring what residents pay as a percentage of per capita income in property, sales, income and other personal taxes levied at the state and local level. It also factors in the portion of business taxes passed along to state residents through higher prices, lower wages or lower profits.

Also in the top 10 least tax-friendly states are four Midwestern states: Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

D.C. residents, however, more than hold their own in the annual competition for heaviest tax burden. This year, the Tax Foundation estimates that D.C. residents will pay 12.8 percent of the district's per capita income in D.C.-imposed taxes.

That doesn't lag far behind the two highest tax burdens -- the 13.5 percent of per capita income the Foundation estimates Maine residents will pay in state and local taxes or the 12.9 percent New York State residents will pay.

The states that get top honors for being the most tax-friendly are Alaska, New Hampshire, Delaware, Tennessee and Alabama. Residents' tax burdens as a percentage of per capita income range from 6.6 percent in Alaska to 8.8 percent in Alabama.

Those states impose the lightest tax burdens in part because, in many instances, they give residents breaks on income and sales taxes.

Tax-friendly places for you

The Tax Foundation's big-picture, state-by-state take on residents' tax burden doesn't tell the full story for individual taxpayers in any state.

That's because just how tax-friendly a place is to you depends, among other things, on:

Your source of income: Do you live off your paycheck or portfolio investments? States can tax earned income and investment income. Some tax one, both or neither. (See which states don't impose a personal income tax.)

Where you live in a state: Cities typically tax residents more heavily than other areas of a state. (For a look at how the tax burdens in the largest U.S. cities differ for a family of four making $100,000, click here.)

Whether you own a home: Even if you've paid off your mortgage, there always will be property taxes to pay. (See a list of the states with the highest and lowest property taxes per capita.)

Whether you're retired: Some states offer retirees special tax breaks. (See a list of states that do.)

Your indulgences: There may be nothing like a cigarette and a drink, but many states and localities will tax you for partaking. Top of page

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