WASHINGTON (AP) - Middle-income families pay one-third more of their
earnings in state and local taxes than do the richest Americans, a
labor-backed research group said Monday.
The disparity is even worse for families in the bottom one-fifth
of the income scale, said Citizens for Tax Justice. The poorest
families see 81 percent more of their earnings swallowed up by state
and local taxes than do the most affluent.
``The biggest problem is over-reliance on regressive sales and
excise taxes rather than on progressive, ability-to-pay income
taxes,'' said Robert S. McIntyre, director of the group.
The findings were included in an analysis by Citizens for Tax
Justice of the major taxes and who pays them in the 50 states and
the District of Columbia.
The organization, which is supported by unions and religious and
social action groups, has long advocated higher taxes on the wealthy
and greater reliance on income taxes.
The study found that only Vermont and Delaware have tax systems
that are even slightly progressive, meaning that they are based on
ability to pay. The 10 states considered to have the least-fair
taxes require middle-income families to pay up to three times as
much of their earnings compared with the rich.
The eight states viewed as having the worst tax systems - South
Dakota, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Washington, Tennessee, Wyoming and
New Hampshire - have no broad personal income tax. Pennsylvania and
Illinois, the other two states found to be most regressive in
taxing, have flat, low-rate income taxes.
While Oklahoma's taxation is a little more evenly distributed
among the lower-, middle- and upper-income families than the eight
worst states, according to the report, low-income individuals are
still saddled with paying the largest portions of their incomes in
taxes - 12.2 percent. Middle-income families pay 10.1 percent of
their incomes and upper-income families pay 7.3 percent of their
incomes in the Sooner State.
A study by two Central State University professors has suggested
adding some services to Oklahoma's tax base for a more progressive
Chris Zimmerman, chief economist for the National Conference of
State Legislatures, said he had not seen the report but acknowledged
that in general, it is more difficult for states, cities and
counties to maintain a progressive tax system. …