What Percentage of the Total Federal Taxes Does Each State Pay?
As the 2020 election nears (with voting already occurring in several parts of the country), there’s been a lot of talk about how different states in the union compare. For example, some have bemoaned the fact that, while the population of a state has an influence on the number of representatives it has in Congress as well as the number of delegates it has in the Electoral College, each state sends the number of Senators to Washington: two. Additionally, during a recent press conference, New York governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned that his state paid a far higher percentage of Federal taxes than many others. Indeed, when it comes to the total amount of Federal taxes paid, the percentage paid by each individual state can vary widely — ranging from just 0.13% to more than 100 times that.
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The map above shows what percentage of the $3.56 trillion in Federal taxes collected in fiscal year 2019 each state paid. States colored with the lighter green paid less than 1% while the increasingly darker greens represent those who paid between 1% and 4.99%; between 5% and 10%; and more than 10%.
When it comes to federal taxes, one state’s percentage towers over any other: California. With a total of $472 billion paid, its residents represented 13.25% of the total. What’s more, the Golden State is the only state whose share tops 10% of the total paid. Meanwhile, only three other states — New York (8.56%), Texas (8.21%), and Florida (5.90%) — pay more than 5%.
On the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming and Vermont are tied for paying the smallest percentage of total federal taxes with a total of 0.13%. However, looking at the actual amounts paid, Wyoming’s $4.74 billion barely beats out Vermont’s $4.50 billion total. These two states are followed by Alaska’s 0.15%, Montana’s 0.18%, and North Dakota’s 0.19%. However, Puerto Rico’s 0.10% would put it at the bottom of the list were the U.S. territory a state. Speaking of non-states, the District of Columbia — where license plates read “End Taxation Without Representation” — paid 0.77% of the total federal taxes in 2019.
In all, half of the states in the union paid less than 1% of the total federal taxes last year. Another 21 paid between 1% and 4.99%. Also notable is that the state of California paid a larger share of federal taxes than the 26 lowest states (plus Puerto Rico, Armed Services members, and expatriates) combined.
Obviously, the population of a state can have a major impact on its share of taxes. This is evident in California’s first-place finish as the state is not only among the largest in the nation but also the most populous. In fact, if the state were its own nation, its economy would rank among the five largest in the entire world. Regardless, it’s still interesting to see these raw figures for what they are. (Source IRS SOI Tax Stats)
|State, Federal District, or Territory||2019 Federal Taxes ($)||% of Total Taxes Paid by State|
|District of Columbia||27,529,823,000||0.77%|
|U.S. Armed Services||770,480,000||0.02%|
The point of this map isn’t to call out or shame residents of some states or assign superiority to others. Instead, it should be viewed as another set of data that tells a story about our country. After all, while some states may end up paying a larger percentage of federal taxes, they may also see additional benefits from their funds. What’s important is that we as Americans all get some say in how these tax dollars are spent. With that in mind, regardless of where you reside, don’t forget to vote on November 3rd (if not sooner).
Also published on Medium.