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Wyoming: wild, western and welcoming to businesses seeking a friendly tax climate

Sweeping western vistas don't get much grander than those found in Wyoming.

Wyoming horses_Flaming Gorge River Basin Scenic Highway_Travel Wyoming
Wyoming has lots of space for wildlife, like these horses spotted along the Flaming Gorge Green River Basin scenic byway, and businesses looking for a friendly tax climate. (Photo courtesy Wyoming Travel)

But the Cowboy State also is pretty expansive when it comes to taxes.

Once again, Wyoming has been found by Tax Foundation analysts to have the best business tax climate. The state has earned that top ranking since at least 2012.

In coming up with its annual State Business Tax Climate Index standings, the Washington, D.C.-based tax policy nonprofit penalizes states for overly complex, burdensome, and economically harmful tax codes. On the other end of the tax spectrum, states are rewarded for transparent and neutral tax codes that do force businesses to make decisions based on tax implications rather than purely economic merit.

"While there are many ways to show how much a state collects in taxes, the Index is designed to show how well states structure their tax systems, and to provide a road map for improvement," says Tax Foundation Policy Analyst Jared Walczak.

The main goal of the study, notes Walczak, is to start a conversation between taxpayers and policymakers about how their states fare against the rest of the country.

10 best business tax climates: It also can be a tool to identify state tax trends, such as how many states are simplifying their tax systems by consolidating individual income tax brackets or even moving to a flat tax or are moving away from taxes on capital.

Some of those trends can be seen in the 2017 Top 10, which are:

  1. Wyoming
  2. South Dakota
  3. Alaska
  4. Florida
  5. Nevada
  6. Montana
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Indiana
  9. Utah
  10. Oregon

No major tax is a common factor among many of the top 10 states. Wyoming, Nevada, and South Dakota have no corporate or individual income tax. Alaska has no individual income or state-level sales tax. Florida has no individual income tax. New Hampshire, Montana, and Oregon have no sales tax.

2017 State Business Tax Climate Index_Tax Foundation_map

Bad tax climates: The annual Tax Foundation business tax climate also looks at those states it says need to work on their tax codes.

At the other end of the 2017 business tax friendly scale are:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Maryland
  3. Connecticut
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Ohio
  6. Minnesota
  7. Vermont, tied with Washington, D.C.
  8. California
  9. New York
  10. New Jersey

These 11 (thanks to the tie at #47) also share several tax shortcomings, such as complex tax structures and comparatively high tax rates.

50 states, 2 tax blogs: The Tax Foundation's annual business tax climate analysis also made it into my postings last this week at my other tax blog.

In addition to looking at Wyoming's winning business tax ways over at Bankrate Taxes Blog, I also looked at the return of private federal tax debt collectors.

I typically post at Bankrate on Tuesdays and Thursday and then provide highlights and links here the following weekend. I met the blogging day schedule, but am hyping them here at the ol' blog a bit early. Why? Because I have some big weekend plans.

I'm finishing up my 2015 return a couple of weeks before the Oct. 17 deadline.

Admit it. You're jealous! I hope your weekend is as fun as mine will be.

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