How to Find Tax Friendly States for Retirees
A state with low tax rates for retirees could keep more cash in your pocket
You can have far more income to spend if you live in one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees versus one of the worst. Is it worth relocating? You never know until you start looking. The question is, what do you look for?
You must consider far more than just income taxes. For example, Pennsylvania has an income tax, but you get to exclude all pension, Social Security, and IRA distributions. Thirty-six states don't tax Social Security, so what if you live in one of the 14 that do? Maybe you consider moving.
Each state will have its own unique set of retirement tax rules; compare states and you may decide a move is worth it, or you may decide it is best to stay put. Below are six great resources you can use to find the most tax-friendly and overall best states for retirement.
Get details on retiree taxes in any state with the Kiplinger online interactive tool. While viewing their U.S. map you can click on any state for details, or use the drop-down menu to see states with pre-selected criteria such as the “18 most pension friendly states”. This tool is a fantastic resource.
This article by TopRetirement.com aptly points out that choosing a state just based on the fact that it has low-to-no income taxes is not always the best choice for a retiree. You have to look at property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, and the taxation of pensions and Social Security. All of these factors need to be considered together; a low tax rate in one area could be offset by high taxes in another. You should also be concerned about differences within a state - sales, income, and property taxes differ significantly among cities in the same state.
Emily Brandon writing for US News came out with this top 10 most tax-friendly towns list. It considers more than just taxes. She said, "We sifted through more than 2,000 U.S. places to find locales that have relatively low taxes but also offer amenities important to retirees like a reasonable cost of living and fine recreational and cultural choices. Many of the low-tax retirement havens have no state sales tax, like Billings, Mont., or no state income tax, like Sioux Falls, S.D. There's nothing like zero tax to make your retirement dollars go further."
Do you live in New York, West Virginia, Oregon, Arkansas or Louisiana? In 2016, these were ranked as five of the least tax-friendly states for retirees. Retirement haven Florida ranked in the middle at 28th and Arizona came in 9th. This article outlines both the best and worst states for retirement taxes and tells you why.
What types of hidden state taxes should you look out for? Retirement Living says this, "This section of our Web site provides you with information on state income taxes, sales and fuel taxes, taxes on retirement income, property taxes and inheritance and estate taxes. It is intended to give you some insight into which states may offer a lower cost of living.” This article provides some great details on state taxes you may not have considered.
Want just the top 10? At the top of the list, the most tax-friendly state is Wyoming, The Equality State. If you don't mind the cold, or you can travel south in the winter, it could be a great low-cost place to call home in retirement.