Oklahoma Tax Rate Ranked 23rd in U.S

Article excerpt

By Lou Anne Wolfe

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Oklahoma was ranked 23rd among the 50 states and District of Columbia on annual taxes for a hypothetical family of four.

Oklahoma had a total tax burden of $6,907 for this hypothetical family, according to the annual state-tax ranking in the January issue Money magazine.

Alaska had the lowest tax burden while New Yorkers pay the most.

The ranking compares taxes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia on a typical two-income family of four that subscribes to Money. That family earned $72,385 in 1992, plus $4,709 in interest, dividends and capital gains, and had $35,112 in expenses.

"I think, really, all it shows is kind of exactly what it says, that Oklahoma is sort of in the middle of the pack when it comes to total tax burden," said Roy Williams, deputy executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

"I think that for our purposes, that's a good place to be. When you get into total tax burden, what companies tend to analyze is, what are you getting for your taxes," he said.

"If your tax rate's high, if there is a correlation to quality of services and volume of services, there's a justification, whereas if it's low, there's not."

Williams said a state's actual ranking on such a list is not so critical as what really comes from the taxes, such as education and health care.

"It's extremely difficult when you get into state-by-state comparisons," he added. "Several organizations and magazines and research entities attempt to do that, and the laws are much more complex than what simple comparisons sometimes tend to give you."

Williams said researchers "find out, many times, that when you delve into specifics, you're comparing apples and oranges, and it becomes very difficult to really get a true handle on total taxes."

Sometimes there are a number of indirect costs and other kinds of fees and costs to businesses that don't come out in this kind of survey, making it difficult to get a specific comparison, he said.

"If you're sort of in the middle of the pack, then you have a sense that you're very competitive, and don't get eliminated because you're at one extreme end of the spectrum," Williams said.

Alaskans don't pay state levies on income, sales or inheritance, so they enjoy the lowest taxes of any state, Money magazine says in its annual state-tax ranking, which appears in the January issue on sale this week.

Alaska, with no earned-income, statewide sales or inheritance taxes, would charge that household only $1,632 a year, the lowest in the country. …