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EDITORIAL: New York: We can do better than No. 1

It’s no secret taxes are high here in New York state.

Anyone who works a job, owns a home or raises a family here is more than likely acquainted with this fact of life. But seeing as how taxes are one of those life certainties, how much does that really matter? How bad is it, really?

Well, according to the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., our taxes matter for about four months a year. According to the independent group, May 1 is New York’s “Tax Freedom Day,” or the day of the year on which workers have earned enough to pay off all their federal, state and local taxes for the year. Only one state (Connecticut) has a later Tax Freedom Day than New York. The earliest falls on March 31, in Tennessee.

That is pretty much how the entirety of the Tax Foundation’s just-released annual report reads. It presents all kinds of information on all manner of taxes, state-by-state. For us here in the Empire State, the results absolutely confirm what is a common perception: New Yorkers are overtaxed, plain and simple.

Here is a sampling of our dubious honors: No. 1 in combined state-local tax burden as a percentage of state income (12.8 percent as of 2010); No. 1 in state individual income tax collections per capita ($1,864); No. 7 in sales tax rates (the average combined rate is 8.48 percent); No. 1 in gasoline taxes; No. 1 in cigarette taxes; No. 3 in cell phone tax rates (17.85 percent)… and it just goes on and on like that.

There is one category in which New York is not in the upper echelons, however: the business tax climate index, in which we rank dead last.

On the plus side, we don’t do halfway bad when it comes to spirit taxes (ranked 20th highest), taxes on wine (ranked 40th) or beer taxes (39th). It’s almost as if there’s a tacit admission you just might be driven to drink by all these rays of sunshine.

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