States With No Income Tax

The Tax Bite in States Without an Income Tax—Are You Really Better Off?

9 states without an income tax: Washington, South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, Texas, Florida, New Hampshire, Tennessee

The Balance / Melissa Ling

The Internal Revenue Service isn't the only taxing authority holding its hand out for a piece of your paycheck. Many states—32 in all—impose a graduated-rate individual income tax. Nine states have a flat income tax or an alternative tax structure, and only seven states lack an income tax altogether: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

New Hampshire and Washington fall into a gray area. New Hampshire collects taxes on dividend and interest income but not earned income; Washington collects taxes on the capital gains of high-earners.

Why Do Some States Not Have an Income Tax?

State income tax is set at the state level, not the federal level, so it's entirely up to state lawmakers. Their reasons for not having income taxes could be driven by their ideals for tax policy, as an incentive to attract new residents, or an increase in revenue from another source.

State income tax in Alaska was repealed after an oil boom in the 1970s. The overwhelming majority of the state's revenue comes from oil industry activity. Alaska decided that it could receive most of the revenue it needed from the oil industry, so the state no longer requires taxes on residents' incomes.

Tennessee and New Hampshire Income Tax

Tennessee gradually reduced its "Hall tax" on interest and dividend income. The state's 6% Hall tax rate was reduced by 1% increments each year until the tax was eliminated on January 1, 2021.

Alaska, Tennessee, and New Hampshire are the only states to ever take legislative steps to eliminate an existing income tax.

New Hampshire assesses a 5% tax on interest and dividend income beyond $2,400. Interest and dividend income aren't taxed for married couples filing joint returns until that amount exceeds $4,800. An additional $1,200 exemption is available for certain taxpayers who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65.

The tax on interest and dividends is being phased out over a five-year period. As a result, new Hampshire will officially have no income tax by 2026.

What If You Earn Income in Other States?

You must still report income earned in other states on your home state tax return if you live in a state that does levy an income tax, even if that income is earned in one of the tax-free states. It works both ways—if you live in a tax-free state and earn income in a state that does tax earnings, you must file a non-resident return in that state, even though you don't live there.

Taxes on Retirement Income

If you're retired military, 34 states do not tax your military pension; nine of these are the states without income taxes or ones that only tax dividends and interest. Income tax on traditional retirement is limited in 27 states, depending on your income.

Other states have partial or full exemptions for people who meet specific income requirements. For example, Kansas exempts Social Security income if your adjusted gross income from all sources is $75,000 or less. 

Ensure you check with the state you plan to retire in if you have or will have a government pension. Some states don't tax government pensions, and some do.

Pennsylvania also exempts private-sector pension income, and Alabama doesn't tax income from defined-benefit retirement plans and many other types. Hawaii doesn't tax income from contributory retirement plans, nor does it tax Social Security payments.

Other Taxes in These States

Before you plant a "For Sale" sign on your lawn and begin packing your bags to move to one of these tax-free states, keep in mind that they still have to raise revenue to function. That means they have to get their money from somewhere.

States without an income tax often make up for the lack of these revenues by raising various other taxes, including property taxes, sales taxes, and fuel taxes. These can add up so that you're paying more in overall taxation than you might have in a state that does tax your income at a reasonable rate. 

New Hampshire and New Jersey have some of the highest average property taxes per capita in the nation, although New Hampshire doesn't have a sales tax. Tennessee has one of the highest sales tax rates in the U.S. Washington will get you at the gas pump with a combined federal and state gas tax of nearly $0.68 per gallon.

States in the Northeast and along the West Coast also have higher-than-average costs of living that should also be taken into account.

The Effect on Your Federal Tax Return

It used to be that you could claim a tax deduction for state income taxes you paid if you itemized on your federal return. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) capped this deduction at $10,000 when it went into effect in 2018, and this $10,000 limit includes certain property taxes as well.

The property taxes you can deduct are the taxes you pay for property such as a boat or car charged annually.

The Bottom Line

Spending habits and lifestyles can vary dramatically, and so do the taxes that families face. You might not have to worry about higher property taxes if you don't plan on owning a home. You should understand all the quirks in local tax law before you can truly compare your potential tax burden in different states.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is income tax?

Income tax is one of the ways governments raise funds. Governments impose a tax on income earned by individuals and businesses. The funds raised are used for government programs, including public services, schools, roads, and programs like Social Security.

What is the income tax rate?

The federal income tax is a progressive tax, which means that the more income you earn, the more you're taxed. The tax rate is divided into brackets, and you pay taxes based on the brackets your income falls into. For example, the 2022 tax brackets are 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. If your taxable income is $45,000 in 2022 and you're a single filer, you would pay 10% on your income up to $10,275, 12% on $10,275 to $41,775 in income, and 22% on your income over $41,775.

Article Sources

  1. Alaska State Legislature. ”History of Alaska Individual Income Tax.”

  2. Tennessee Department of Revenue. “What Is the Hall Income Tax Rate?

  3. New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. "Taxpayer Assistance - Overview of New Hampshire Taxes," See "Interest & Dividends Tax."

  4. American Association of Retired People. "12 States That Won't Tax Your Retirement Distributions."

  5. Kansas Department of Revenue. "Frequently Asked Questions About Individual Income."

  6. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. “Gross Compensation.”

  7. Alabama Department of Revenue. “Income Exempt From Alabama Income Taxation.”

  8. Hawaii Department of Taxation. “Hawaii Resident Income Tax Instructions," Page 14.

  9. Tax Foundation. “How Much Does Your State Collect in Property Taxes Per Capita?

  10. New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. “Frequently Asked Questions - General.”

  11. Tax Foundation. “State and Local Sales Tax Rates, 2022.”

  12. Washington State Department of Revenue. “Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Rates.”

  13. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 503 Deductible Taxes."

  14. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2022."