State Revenues and Tax Policy

State Revenues and Tax Policy


tax papers Consumers who plan to rent a car on their next trip may be surprised by the final costs. Over the years, state and local governments have added extra taxes and fees to the process in an effort to boost revenues.




moneyDuring what is known as a sales tax holiday, a state places a temporary suspension on state, and sometimes local, sales taxes. States usually time such holidays during “back-to-school” shopping periods, and they last just a few days.




A government’s revenue system is the entire means by which a government acquires funding. States rely on a broad range of revenue sources to fund government. On average, states generate more than one-third of their revenues from personal income taxes and another one-third from general sales taxes. The remaining revenues are split between excise taxes (on gasoline, cigarettes and alcohol); corporate income and franchise taxes; and taxes on business licenses, utilities, insurance premiums, severance, property and several other sources. That being said, the general character of a state or state and local revenue system is more important than the nature of any single one of its components.

The relative importance of the major revenue sources for state and local governments changed since 1971. Property taxes declined in importance, and their share was picked up mostly by state individual income taxes, charges and miscellaneous revenues. Since state revenue systems have developed gradually and tax policy is used to address multiple objectives, state revenue systems are likely to include inconsistencies.

Each year NCSL conducts a survey at the close of legislative sessions and, based on information provided by legislative fiscal directors, reports the significant revenue changes in State Tax Actions.



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  • Collecting E-Commerce Taxes | E-Fairness Legislation

    NCSL advocates for passage of e-fairness legislation because it levels the playing field for local businesses, which are the economic backbones of our communities that provide employment and tax revenue to fund vital services. As sales taxes account for over a third of revenues for most states, the inability to collect taxes that are legally owed constrains states’ options to reform their tax code elsewhere.

  • 2013 State Tax Actions

    State Tax Actions 2013 features state-by state-details about changes in tax laws enacted in 2013. It includes analysis of the revenue impact and implications for future state tax policy, illustrated with tables, charts and graphs.

  • State Budget Actions FY2013 and FY2014

    State Budget Actions FY2013 and FY2014 evaluates state fiscal conditions on the basis of general funds and includes information about state earmarked funds for education, corrections and Medicaid.

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