In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, Pennsylvania collected $58.6 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Pennsylvania taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1 below, Pennsylvania’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by personal income) was the twenty-third highest in the nation for FY 2013 at 10 percent—this is -3 percent below the national average of 10.3 percent. As shown in Chart 2, Pennsylvania’s tax burden has grown 80 percent to 10 percent in FY 2013 from 5.5 percent in FY 1950.
Pennsylvania’s has a higher than average individual income tax burden (2.5 percent, 19th highest), corporate income tax burden (0.43 percent, 13th percent), and all other taxes burden (2.4 percent, 12th highest) which is partially offset by a lower than average property tax burden (3 percent, 21st highest) and sales tax burden (1.7 percent, 40th highest).
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in Pennsylvania—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.
The Pennsylvania counties with the highest local government tax burden include: Monroe County, PA (8 percent), Wayne County, PA (6.5 percent), and Philadelphia County, PA (6.5 percent). The Pennsylvania counties with the lowest local government tax burden include: Fayette County, PA (2.2 percent), Jefferson County, PA (2.5 percent), and Northumberland County, PA (2.6 percent).
J. Scott Moody has nearly 20 years experience as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as the American Conservative Union Foundation, Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.