COST Releases 14th Annual Study of State and Local Business Taxes

The Council On State Taxation (COST) recently released its fourteenth annual study of state and local business taxes. The report, "Total State and Local Business Taxes: State-by-State Estimates for Fiscal Year 2015," prepared by Ernst & Young LLP, shows all state and local business taxes paid in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These taxes include business property taxes; sales and excise taxes paid by businesses on their input purchases and capital expenditures; gross receipts taxes; corporate income and franchise taxes; business and corporate license taxes; unemployment insurance taxes; individual income taxes paid by owners of non-corporate (pass-through) businesses; and other state and local taxes that are the statutory liability of business taxpayers.

According to the report, businesses paid more than $707.5 billion in state and local taxes in FY 2015, an increase of 1.9% from FY 2014. State business taxes grew less quickly than local taxes, with state taxes growing 1.0% compared to local tax growth of 2.9%. In FY 2015, business tax revenue accounted for 44.1% of all state and local tax revenue. The business share has been within one percentage point of 45% since FY 2003. 

I always enjoy these reports as they provide additional insight and context into the debate around state tax policy. The difference in the amount of sales taxes paid versus income tax paid always stands out to me: 

  • General sales taxes on business inputs and capital investment totaled $150.6 billion, or 21.3% of state and local business taxes. 
  • State and local corporate income and business gross receipts tax revenue was $67.3 billion, or 9.5% of all state and local business taxes. 

Will the report encourage changes in state tax policy? 

Will the report encourage taxpayers to change tax planning or operations?