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Most Texans Pay More In Taxes Than Californians

Texas Republicans have long warned of the ‘California-zation’ of Texas. But a recent post on Reddit’s main economic forum included a 2018 graphic that shows most Texans pay more taxes than Californians. It’s one of the most highly-rated recent posts and has thus far generated 569 comments.

The graphic was generated from data gathered by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.  The data is from 2018, but the institute is expected to release updated findings later this year, according to the San Antonio Express-News

Texans in the bottom 20 percent income group pay 13 percent of their income in state and local taxes. Meanwhile, Californians in the bottom 20 percent pay 10.5 percent.

Middle income Texans, which represent 60 percent of earners, pay 9.7 percent in state and local taxes while the middle 60 percent of Californians pay 8.9 percent. 

The top 1 percent of earners in Texas pay dramatically less: 3.1 percent of their income vs. 12.4 percent in California. Texans in the top 1 percent earn $617,000 or more per year, while Califrnians in the 1-percent-club earn $714,000 or more. 

Taxes are considered ‘regressive’ when they take a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners. Sales taxes and property taxes – those that Texas relies on – are regressive. Texas was the second-most regressive tax state behind Washington state. 

All states have some regressive taxes, but some states counterbalance those with income taxes that hit the highest earners the most. California is the most progressive tax state because people in higher tax brackets pay higher tax rates, according to the institute.

Despite Texas’ reputation as a “low-tax, low-government state,”  said Robert Peroni, a tax professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, states with income taxes do more to lower inequality.

But if you think the Texas system is unfair, too bad. Texas voters overwhelmingly supported a 2019 amendment to the state constitution that would make it very difficult to pass an income tax. Given that the current system mostly benefits the top 1 percent, one wonders if the voters fully understood the implications of their vote. 

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson
Writer, editor, photographer and editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson has joined the Reform Austin newsroom, where he will employ the artistic skill and political insights that earned a Pulitzer Prize to drive coverage of Texas government. As managing editor, Anderson is responsible for guiding Reform Austin’s efforts to give readers the unfiltered facts they need to hold Texas leaders accountable. Anderson’s original cartoons will be a regular feature on RA News. “Reform Austin readers understand the consequences of electing politicians who use ideological agendas to divide us, when they should be doing the hard work necessary to make our state government work for everyone,” Anderson said. “As a veteran journalist, I’m excited about Reform Austin’s potential to re-focus conversations on the issues that matter to common-sense Texans – like protecting our neighborhoods from increasingly common disasters, healthcare, just to name a few.” Anderson worked for the Houston Chronicle, the largest newspaper in Texas, from 2006 until 2017. In addition to the Pulitzer, Anderson earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award. He’s also a two-time winner of Columbia College’s Fischetti Award, and the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award. Anderson’s cartoons have been published in Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and other papers. In 2005, Anderson won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning while working for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. The judges complimented his “unusual graphic style that produced extraordinarily thoughtful and powerful messages.”


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