In the mood for a depressing statistic? A new report from the financial services firm Self concludes that the average American will pay an astounding $525,037 in taxes over their lifetime—roughly 34 percent of their lifetime earnings.
But the numbers aren’t uniform across the country; they vary wildly from state to state. Based on taxes on earnings, spending, property, and cars, here are the 10 states where residents pay the highest taxes over a lifetime.
1. New Jersey
Topping the list is New Jersey, where residents will, on average, owe an astounding $932,000 in taxes over their lifetime. That’s nearly 50 percent of their typical lifetime earnings!
Next up is my home state of Massachusetts, aptly dubbed “Taxachusetts” by disgruntled residents (and former residents!). Their frustration is understandable, as they will owe an average of $827,000 in lifetime taxes.
The New England trend continues with Connecticut coming in third on the ranking. Typical residents will owe a whopping $805,000 in taxes over their lifetime.
4. Washington, DC
Technically not a state but included in this ranking for relevant comparison, the nation’s capital comes in as one of the highest-tax destinations. The average DC resident will pay $789,934 in taxes over their lifetime.
5. New Hampshire
Next up is a surprise inclusion: New Hampshire. The Granite State boasts zero income taxes and zero sales taxes, but according to this report, average residents will still owe roughly $778,800 in lifetime taxation.
However, this report's analysis of New Hampshire is something of an outlier.
Because the state has very low tax rates, but wealthier residents, total high tax amounts may be paid. Yet New Hampshire has been ranked in other reports as one of the lowest tax states with the highest return-on-taxpayer investment. This means that, unlike most other states on this list, folks moving to New Hampshire will likely see their taxes go down, not up.
6. Rhode Island
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US, but its tax burden is one of the largest. The report concludes that Ocean State residents will pay, on average, $767,000 in taxes over their lifetime.
7. New York
Next up is the Empire State. New Yorkers will have to shell out an average of $735,000 in taxes over the years.
In eighth ranks a state many would’ve expected to come in even higher: California. Californians will owe nearly $711,000 in taxes over an average lifetime.
Tax-weary residents of Washington, DC won’t find much relief across the Maryland border. In Maryland, average lifetime taxes come in at just under $700,000.
Next up is Illinois. Residents will have to pay almost $694,000 in taxes, on average, over their lifetimes.
The Big Picture
This new report offers more than just helpful information for frugal folks on the market for a move. Comparing the vast sums of confiscated wealth residents of these states face to their low-tax competitors like Tennessee, where lifetime taxes average about $348,000, reminds us why our federalist system of state-level policy variation is so important.
Americans can vote with their feet for policies that reward work rather than attack wealth. And if the hordes of people leaving California and New York for Texas and Florida are any example, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to include additional context regarding the tax situation in New Hampshire.