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April 9, 2013

State Taxes Relatively Unchanged in 2012, New NCSL Report Finds

DENVER—Only six states reported sizeable net tax changes in 2012, according to “State Actions 2012,” a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). California, Illinois and Maryland  increased net taxes by more than 1 percent, while Idaho, Kansas and New York decreased them by more than 1 percent.

The combined activity in all 50 states resulted in a net tax increase of 0.5 percent, or $4.1 billion. However, the aggregate figures are skewed by California, where voters approved a large tax increase. With California out of the mix, states reported a slight net tax cut of 0.2 percent.

 “It was a relatively quiet year for state taxes,” said the report’s author, Mandy Rafool, a principal in NCSL’s Fiscal Affairs program. “That was to be expected because states are still facing fiscal uncertainty and lawmakers are less likely to enact major tax increases during an election year.”

The report lists tax and revenue changes enacted by state legislatures during the 2012 calendar year, with detailed information from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also includes the results of tax measures that were voted on during 2012 general elections. As a whole, states increased taxes in the following areas: personal income, corporate and business, sales and use, tobacco, and fees and miscellaneous sources. They made cuts in taxes on health care and motor fuel. There was no change in alcohol-related taxes.

The  tax changes listed in the report generally take effect in FY 2013. For 46 states, the fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30. Exceptions are Alabama and Michigan, where fiscal years begin in October and end in September; Texas, September to August; and New York, April to March.

This annual report is a cooperative effort of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO) and the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Fiscal Affairs Program.

Credentialed members of the media may receive a free full copy of NCSL's "State Budget Update: Fall 2012.” The link to the report provided in this release does not contain links to the detailed 50-state tables. Please contact the press room to obtain a complete copy of NCSL's budget report. This report is also available for purchase in NCSL's bookstore.


NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.