Federal tax bill hits hardest in D.C.; where does Ohio rank?

FILE - In this photo March 22, 2013 file photo, the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington. Politicians love trying to use the tax code to highlight their goals to voters. This year, it’s a battlefield between Hillary Clinton, who wants to boost levies on the rich to pay for expanding social programs and Donald Trump, who says cutting taxes would gird the economy. The clash has consequences for the rich, poor and those in the middle. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Tax Day approaches, show some love for the good people who live in the nation’s capital.

Washington, that swampy den of iniquity that politicians love to scorn, sends the most tax dollars per person to the U.S. government.

By a lot.

Last year, the District of Columbia paid Uncle Sam $37,000 per person in federal income, payroll and estate taxes. The next closest was Delaware, at $16,000 per person.

“It’s where the money is,” said Roberton Williams, a fellow at the Tax Policy Center. “The reason the District pays so much in taxes is that there are a lot of high-income people there.”

Washington is an outlier because, despite years of lobbying, it is not a state. It doesn’t even have a vote in Congress. It is, however, a city with a relatively high cost of living.

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West Virginia, Mississippi and New Mexico have low median household incomes, which helps explain why they their residents pay far less in federal taxes. West Virginia paid $3,600 per person last year, while Mississippi paid $3,900 per person and New Mexico residents paid a little more than $4,000.

The Associated Press calculated each state’s per-capita tax bill using data from the IRS and population estimates from the Census Bureau.

A look at how the District of Columbia and the states rank in per capita federal taxes:

  1. District of Columbia: $36.569
  2. Delaware: $16.322
  3. Minnesota: $14.624
  4. Massachusetts: $14.516
  5. Connecticut: $13.773
  6. New Jersey: $12.852
  7. New York: $11.758
  8. Illinois: $10.814
  9. Ohio: $10.735
  10. Maryland: $10.455
  11. Rhode Island: $10.316
  12. Washington: $9.669
  13. Nebraska: $9.566
  14. California: $9.305
  15. Pennsylvania: $9.179
  16. Colorado: $9.030
  17. Missouri: $8.986
  18. North Dakota: $8.621
  19. Louisiana: $8.490
  20. Tennessee: $8.481
  21. South Dakota: $8.398
  22. Florida: $8.366
  23. Virginia: $8.323
  24. Arkansas: $8.318
  25. New Hampshire: $8.180
  26. Wisconsin: $8.115
  27. Texas: $7.858
  28. Indiana: $7.694
  29. Kansas: $7.676
  30. Michigan: $7.405
  31. Oregon: $7.268
  32. Georgia: $7.211
  33. Alaska: $7.171
  34. North Carolina: $7.133
  35. Wyoming: $7.128
  36. Iowa: $7.026
  37. Kentucky: $6.848
  38. Vermont: $6.728
  39. Nevada: $6.372
  40. Utah: $6.291
  41. Oklahoma: $5.803
  42. Idaho: $5.769
  43. Hawaii: $5.505
  44. Montana: $5.504
  45. Arizona: $5.446
  46. Maine: $5.432
  47. Alabama: $4.874
  48. South Carolina: $4.685
  49. New Mexico: $4.032
  50. Mississippi: $3.901
  51. West Virginia: $3.616

The deadline to file federal tax returns is Tuesday. It was pushed back because the usual April 15 deadline was Saturday, and because Monday is a holiday in the District of Columbia.

The IRS says millions of taxpayers have yet to file their returns. As they do, they shouldn’t feel too badly for D.C. residents.

The nation’s capital gets a good return on its tax investment. For every dollar the District sends to the federal government, it gets back almost $4, according to a 2015 study by the New York state comptroller.

For years, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., would document that New York paid more to the federal government than it got back. In 2015, the state’s comptroller took up the cause.

Washington’s rate of return is higher than any state — most of it comes from wages for federal employees. The closest state is Mississippi, which gets back $2.57 in federal spending for every dollar it sends to Washington. New Mexico, West Virginia and Alabama are also big winners when it comes to federal taxes and spending.

These states are big takers because they have a lot of residents who get federal benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability benefits and food stamps.

“They have lower incomes so they pay less in taxes and, because they have lower incomes, they get more federal aid,” said Morgan Scarboro, a policy analyst at the Tax Foundation.

So why do so many of these states that benefit from the federal government produce conservative politicians who complain that the government is too big?

“There is this perception that so much money is being spent on things that don’t benefit them,” Williams said. “They ignore the things that do benefit them.”

Williams cited foreign aid as a favorite target, even though it makes up only 1 percent of the federal budget, if you count military assistance.

“People view the world as cut my taxes and cut his spending,” Williams said. “His spending is wasteful and my taxes are hurting me badly.”

Most states are winners when it comes to getting more money from the federal government than they pay in taxes. On average, Americans get $1.22 for every dollar they send to Washington, according to the New York study.

That’s why the federal government has a budget deficit.

The federal spending comes from social programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as grants to state and local governments and spending on infrastructure.

States such as South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia benefit from having large military bases.

The biggest losers when it comes to taxes and spending are New Jersey, Wyoming and Connecticut. New Jersey gets back just 77 cents for every dollar it pays, while Wyoming gets back 81 cents and Connecticut gets 83 cents.

New York gets 91 cents for every dollar it sends to Washington, according to the comptroller’s report.

All these states have incomes above the national average.

“It’s a good example of a progressive tax code,” Scarboro said. “That is how it is designed to work.”

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