By John Woolfolk | California was the birthplace of the 1970s tax revolt, but its residents still pay more in state and local taxes than those in most other big urban states. And many are asking why as they assess how a new federal income tax law that caps state and local tax deductions will shake out for them.
“We have relatives in Missouri, and when we travel there we wonder why it costs so much more here,” said Bob Jackson, 66, a retired postal worker who lives in San Jose.
Of the five most populous U.S. states — California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania — only New York collects more state and local taxes per resident than the Golden State, according to The Tax Foundation, an independent Washington, D.C., tax policy nonprofit. (Story continues below graphic.)
Like California, Texas and Florida are big coastal states with miles of beaches, large, diverse, multilingual populations and all the urban complexities that come with hosting some of the country’s biggest cities. Yet they have more public school teachers per pupil and higher test scores, they have more cops per crime, more firefighters per resident and more criminals behind bars.
As the federal tax overhaul puts a spotlight on high-tax states like California, which just unveiled a new $131.7 billion budget proposal with a $6.1 billion surplus tabbed for rainy-day reserves, it has renewed debate over whether Californians pay too much for their government.
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