In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, West Virginia collected $7.5 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average West Virginia taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1, West Virginia’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by private sector personal income) was the fourth highest in the nation for FY 2015 at 19.1 percent—or 33 percent above the national average of 14.4 percent.
As shown in Chart 2, West Virginia’s tax burden has increased over time by 150 percent to 19.1 percent in FY 2015 from 7.7 percent in FY 1950.
As shown in Chart 3, West Virginia’s 19.1 percent tax burden is greater than these combined industries: manufacturing (8.6 percent), retail trade (7.4 percent), utilities (1.6 percent), and real estate and rental and leasing (1.5 percent).
West Virginia’s high tax burden is driven by a high individual income tax burden (4.9 percent, 7th highest) and high all other tax burdens (6.4 percent, 3rd highest)—all other taxes being primarily severance taxes on natural resources, especially coal.
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 Florida—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself (see Chart 4).
The ten West Virginia counties with the highest local government tax burden include:
The ten West Virginia counties with the lowest local government tax burden include:
Finally, don’t forget to watch our exclusive time-lapse video of state and local tax burdens over the last 65 years! See if your state has been above or below the national average?
Scott has nearly 20 years of experience as a public policy economist. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 180 studies and books. His professional experience also includes positions at the American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute, Federalism In Action, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Tax Foundation, and Heritage Foundation.