Kiplinger's Tax Map: About Our Methodology

Tax Breaks

Kiplinger’s Tax Map: About Our Methodology

The research behind our judgments.


To create our rankings, we evaluated data and state tax-policy details from a wide range of sources. These include:

Income tax

We looked at each state’s tax agency, plus this helpful document from the Tax Foundation.

Property Tax

Median income tax paid and median home values come from the U.S. Census American Community Survey and are 2016 data.

Sales tax

Each state’s tax agency. We also cite the Tax Foundation’s figure for average sales tax, which is a a population-weighted average of local sales taxes. In states that let municipalities add sales taxes, this gives an estimate of what most people in a given state actually pay, as those rates can vary widely.

Fuel taxes

The American Petroleum Institute prepares a quarterly update of state rates. We used October 2018 data. Values include both excise taxes, sales taxes (when applicable) and a variety of fees that states impose.

Sin taxes

Inheritance & gift taxes:

Each state’s tax agency.

Wireless taxes:

The Tax Foundation.

Travel taxes:

Each state’s tax agency, plus a lodging tax study published in 2015 by HVS Convention Sports and Entertainment Consulting. For car rental pricing, we excluded location-specific taxes (often levied to pay for improvements at airports) and fees applied by rental car companies to cover the registration taxes/fees on their fleets.

Fiscal stability:

While this is not a category per se, each state’s balance sheet gives an indication of what its tax future might look like. We drew on the study Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.