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Employment taxes

The Best and Worst States when it Comes to Taxes

There are a lot of factors to consider when you begin to establish your business and one factor that is often overlooked is the effect state taxes will have on your business’s bottom line. Sometimes businesses forget that in addition to those federal taxes, they also have to pay state taxes and often local city business taxes as well. All of that can make a big dent on a business’s bottom line.

The Tax Foundation, a non-profit that specializes in tax policy took a look at all 50 states and ranked them in five different categories: corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, property tax, and unemployment insurance tax. Based on those rankings, it came up for an overall ranking for each state. You can see the full list here, but to make it a little easier, take a look at the top and bottom three on the list.

The Top 3


The state of Wyoming has the lowest corporate and individual income taxes in the United States. Its sales tax (just 4% in 2019) is also in the top 10, which makes it a very agreeable place for businesses to set up shop.


Alaska is top in America when it comes to individual income tax and 25th for corporate tax. The state has no sales tax, but it allows cities to tax purchases up to 7%, which dropped the state down a few pegs in the rankings.

There are downsides to opening a business in Alaska. The cost of living in Alaska is high and the quality of life can be poor considering for part of the year it’s pretty dark outside.

South Dakota

South Dakota has the best corporate tax rate in the country and is tied with Wyoming for the best individual tax rate. But the state’s sales tax rate is 4.5% which is what knocked South Dakota down to third on the list.

Bottom 3

New York

New York’s low ranking has a lot to do with property taxes and the individual state income tax, which are 47th and 48th respectively. The one place the state does excel is how it treats its corporations. According to Nolo, the default corporate tax rate is 6.5%, but emerging technology companies get a 1% break and qualified manufacturers pay no corporate tax at all.

New York includes New York City and that’s another roadblock for businesses. Companies that want to open up in The Big Apple will have to contend with another set of taxes as well. According to Smart Asset, New York City also collects its own individual income tax on top of what the state and federal government collect.


Second to last on the list is California, in large part because of how much it charges in corporate and individual taxes. California is 49th on the list in individual tax, behind only New Jersey, which just so happens to be the lowest ranking state on the Tax Foundation’s list.

There is an upside to California, U.S. News ranks the Golden State as the top spot to start a business because “The state boasts the most venture capital investment and the highest patent creation rate of any state.”

New Jersey

The Garden State falls to the bottom of the list because it has high taxes in almost every category. The state has the highest individual tax in the United States and ranks 47th in corporate tax. There’s also a state sales tax that ranks 45th on the list at 6.625%.

President Signs Disaster Tax Relief Bill


In the last three months, US residents were devastated and are now faced with recovering from the impact of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, with Harvey being one of the most powerful in recent history.

As we all know after such devastation, it is vital to a community to get back to operational as soon as possible and this includes helping businesses get their employees back to work and providing much needed services.  Disaster relief in the aftermath of crippling weather events is as important to businesses as it is to the residents of affected communities.

On September 29, 2017, President Trump signed HR 3823, the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airways Funding Act of 2017, and that bill became law on that same date.  Section 503 of the bill, entitled “Disaster-Related Employment Relief,” addresses the retention tax credit, which applies to wages paid by an eligible employer to an eligible employee during the time when the employee’s workplace was inoperable as a result of a declared disaster.  The retention credit applies to impacted disaster zones resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and also has specific requirements to meet eligibility.

Now to the good stuff!  How does a business qualify? Which employees are eligible? Etc, etc…the fun facts are below…

To paraphrase the cryptic language of the Internal Revenue Code, the employee retention credit for any taxable year is an amount equal to 40 % of the qualified wages for each eligible employee, of the affected employer, for that taxable year, not to exceed $6000 in qualified wages for each eligible employee.

To clarify…an “eligible employer” means any employer,

1) which conducted an active trade or business on August 23, 2017, in the Hurricane Harvey disaster zone, on September 4, 2017, in the Hurricane Irma disaster zone, and on September 16, 2017, in the Hurricane Maria disaster zone and

2) if the business was inoperable on any date between August 23, 2017, and before January 1, 2018, as a result of damage sustained by Hurricane Harvey; dates between September 4, 2017, and before January 1, 2018, as a result of damage sustained by Hurricane Irma; and dates between September 16, 2017, and January 1, 2018, as a result of damage sustained by Hurricane Maria.

The retention credit also requires that the employee is deemed an “eligible employee”…which is defined as an employee whose principal place of employment on August 23, 2017, September 4, 2017, and September 16, 2017, coincides with the designated hurricane disaster zones for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

In addition, the term “qualified wages” means wages paid or incurred by an eligible employer, with respect to any eligible employee, on any of the specified dates for each of the hurricane disaster zones beginning on the date the business first became inoperable immediately before the hurricane and ending the date that the business was able to resume operations at the designated workplace.  The qualified wages include wages paid whether the employee performs no services, performs services at a different location, or performs services at the principal workplace before operations have resumed.

Here’s the caveat, and there is always a caveat with new legislation.  To be considered for the credit, the employee cannot be treated as an “eligible employee” if the employer is allowed the credit under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for the same time period.

If you would like more information and you just LOVE reading new tax legislation you can read the bill in it’s entirety here.

We know know tax credit changes can be difficult to understand. If you would like to know more about how to claim this credit, or whether or not you qualify, feel free to give us a call at 866-844-9529, or reach out to us here.

WOTC Renewal Update


The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program scored a big victory this week. On 7/21/15, the Senate Finance Committee voted 23-3 to pass a two-year extension of this important program. This means that the bill is now ready for a full Senate vote. Although this is only the first step,  the near-unanimous support for WOTC legislation marks a huge step forward in a program which has awaited renewal since December 2014.

WOTC is an employment incentive to reward businesses who hire from several target groups that historically have faced barriers to employment. The tax credit awards businesses up to $2400-9600 for each eligible new hire. Applications must be received within 28 days to state workforce agencies.

We strongly advocate for this program as it has served American companies well. WOTC has helped businesses save thousands annually in tax liability. Moreover, it expands opportunities for job candidates most in need.

The program has passed one gateway and is en route for a Senate vote. We will keep you posted as new developments take place.

Kentucky Employment Tax Incentives


Corporations located in Kentucky may not be aware that they have state tax credits available to them in addition to the federal credits offered from WOTC. Hiring an unemployed resident could qualify you for as much as $100 for each eligible individual.

Businesses can qualify if their new hires are certified by the Office of Employment and Training as unemployed for sixty days prior to being hired into full-time employment. Individuals must also be employed full-time for 180 consecutive days during the tax year the credit is claimed. Full-time employment is defined as working 23 hours weekly or more.

The state of Kentucky considers applicants unemployed if they worked less than 23 hours weekly or 100 hours a month during the sixty days immediately prior to employment, and they must have had an employed status prior to the term of unemployed status.

There are a few exclusions to the program to be mindful of. Credits may not be claimed if the employee received federally funded payments for on-the-job training, is a relative of the employer, if the employer is an estate or trust, is a grantor, beneficiary, or fiduciary.

If your business is located in Kentucky, we can assist with educating and helping you obtain these applications and certificates. Just by making a few minor tweaks in your hiring process, you could claim extra tax savings. Give us a call today to learn more about these credits.

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