A slew of factors go into where you should locate your business, from regional demand, to closeness to supply chains, and even varying state regulations. But an issue that is growing to be especially important is the state's tax code.
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The Best States
1. Wyoming > Taxes collected per capita: $4,347 (3rd highest) > Unemployment: 4.9% (5th lowest) > Corporate taxes collected per capita: none (the lowest) > Sales tax rate: 4.0% (tied-13th lowest)
Wyoming is the highest-rated state in the nation for business tax policy. Like other states with strong business tax climates, it benefits from the absence of any individual income tax. Like Nevada and South Dakota, which ranked just behind Wyoming for the quality of their business tax climate, Wyoming has neither corporate income tax nor gross receipts tax. But while other states that did not tax income choose instead to tax sales heavily, Wyoming does not. As of January, its state sales tax rate was just 4%, one of the lowest of any state with such a tax. Including the average local sales tax, consumers paid an effective sales tax rate of just 5.3% on purchases, among the lowest in the nation.
2. South Dakota > Taxes collected per capita: $1,682 (3rd lowest) > Unemployment: 4.4% (3rd lowest) > Corporate taxes collected per capita: $19 (5th lowest) > Sales tax rate: 4.0% (tied-13th lowest)
South Dakota is one of the seven states without an individual income tax. In addition, the state only collected $19 per capita of corporate income tax in 2011, lower than all other states excluding the four states that do not collect corporate taxes. Because of these low taxes, the state only collected $1,682 per capita in 2011, lower than all but two other states. More than half of that money was collected in the form of sales taxes. In 2011, the state collected $985 in sales tax revenue per capita, the eighth-highest of all states. In January 2013, South Dakota had an unemployment rate of just 4.4%, lower than all states except for North Dakota and Nebraska.
3. Nevada > Taxes collected per capita: $2,333 (25th lowest) > Unemployment: 9.7% (3rd highest) > Corporate taxes collected per capita: none (the lowest) > Sales tax rate: 6.85% (8th highest)
Nevada doesn’t collect any individual or corporate income taxes. To make up for this, the state has a sales tax rate of 6.85%, the eighth-highest of all states. In addition, a sizable chunk of the state’s revenue comes from taxes on gambling revenue. Tax revenue in January 2013 was down by more than 11% compared to the same month in 2012. A ballot initiative raising the state’s gaming tax from 6.75% to 9% was devised in 2012. However, the measure never made it to the voters because a judge found the tax inadequately explained what it would accomplish.
The Worst States
1. Maryland > Taxes collected per capita: $2,756 (15th highest) > Unemployment: 6.7% (tied–20th lowest) > Corporate taxes collected per capita: $134 (19th highest) > Sales tax rate: 6.0% (tied-16th highest)
Despite having the 10th-best business tax climate in the country, Maryland actually has a relatively high corporate tax rate. However, its rank for individual tax rates was the sixth-lowest of all states. Maryland’s weak business climate may be driving some companies away, according the Tax Foundation. Northrop Grumman chose Virginia instead of Maryland due to the state’s comparably attractive tax climate.
2. Iowa > Taxes collected per capita: $2,368 (24th highest) > Unemployment: 5.0% (6th lowest) > Corporate taxes collected per capita: $82 (15th lowest) > Sales tax rate: 6.0% (tied-16th highest)
Iowa was rated by the Tax Foundation as having the second least favorable corporate taxes in the country, as it has a corporate income tax rate of 12% — the highest in the nation. Despite these heavy taxes, Iowa collected just $82 per capita in taxes from corporations in 2011, versus an average of $129 per capita in all states. Iowa benefitted from one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, which means more people earn a regular paycheck and have more money to spend — potentially driving up tax revenue.
3. Wisconsin > Taxes collected per capita: $2,692 (17th highest) > Unemployment: 7.0% (tied-24th lowest) > Corporate taxes collected per capita: $149 (16th highest) > Sales tax rate: 5.0% (20th lowest)
Wisconsin’s income tax policy was the fifth-worst of all states for business, according to the Tax Foundation. Wisconsin collected $149 in corporate income taxes per capita, in the top third of all states. In addition, the state brought in $1,128 in individual income taxes per capita, the 10th highest of all states. The Tax foundation lists Wisconsin as a state where job growth has been hampered by taxes. The state’s unemployment rate, however, was lower than the national rate in January.