Tax and Transfer Progressivity at the US State Level

Abstract

Combining a variety of survey and administrative data, this paper measures the progressivity of taxes and transfers for each of the US states and contrasts it to progressivity at the federal level. Our findings are fourfold: (i) the tax and transfer system is progressive at the federal level; (ii) state and local tax and transfer systems are close to proportional, on average: the regressivity of state consumption and property taxes neutralizes the progressivity of state income taxes and transfers; (iii) there is substantial heterogeneity across states, and its key determinant is the choice of the tax base (sales and property vs income); (iv) Democrat-leaning states tend to have more progressive systems, but richer and more unequal states tend to me more regressive.

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