Arizona tax-freedom day arrives 5 days earlier

Nationally, it hits 5 days later than in 2012
The Arizona Republic
Monday, April 15, 2013
Russ Wiles

Arizona’s tax burden appears to be easing this year, even as the national tax bill rises, according to a new study.

Arizona’s “tax freedom day” arrived five days earlier this year, on April 5, than it did in 2012, the Tax Foundation reported. The nation’s tax-freedom day comes five days later this year, on April 18, the Tax Foundation reported.

The group cited higher personal income taxes from the “fiscal cliff” budget deal and expiration of a payroll-tax holiday for the increased federal levy this year. New taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act also played a role in lengthening the nation’s average tax burden.

Tax-freedom day is an illustration of how long it would take to pay all state, local and federal taxes, assuming those taxes are paid before other expenses. Along with taxes, it also is a function of how much taxable income or revenue residents earn. In that sense, Arizona’s lower burden could reflect falling property values and other fallout from the recent economic downturn.

“Property values track at least a year behind,” said Kevin McCarthy, president of the Arizona Tax Research Association.

Also, Arizonans’ personal income has been muted — another factor that could be contributing to the lessened burden.

“The recession hit Arizona harder than nearly any other state, which could explain why the burden went down,” McCarthy said.

Although a temporary 1-cent-per-dollar increase in the statewide sales tax will end this spring, there haven’t been any legislative tax cuts that would explain the lessened tax burden, McCarthy said.

Elizabeth Malm, an economist at the Tax Foundation who helped compile the study, also said discrepancies in the timing of tax and economic data received for the various states could be a factor. “The large change is likely due to revisions in federal data not being reflected,” she wrote in a note.

Connecticut this year has the latest tax-freedom day, equating to the heaviest tax burden. It won’t come in that state until May 13. Mississippi and Louisana tied for the earliest tax-freedom day, March 29.

Arizona’s tax-freedom day of April 5 this year compares with April 10 in 2012. Arizona’s average tax burden this year is projected as a relatively light No. 43, compared with No. 35 last year.

Nationally, Americans on average work 32 days to pay federal income taxes, 24 days for social-insurance taxes supporting programs including Social Security and Medicare, 12 days for state and local property taxes, 12 days for state/local excise or sales taxes, eight days for state income taxes and eight days for federal corporate income taxes. Other taxes account for the remainder.