Gauging the Business Tax Climate in America

September 28, 2017
Greg Kelly

Where you live can have a huge impact on your personal financial picture, and new tax data indicate that veterinarians should consider going west.

The feelings and experiences veterinarians have about paying taxes mirror those of society at large. Who enjoys paying taxes? But the fact is that veterinarians in their prime will probably pay about one-third of their annual income in some form of taxes.

Some Americans think taxes are the price of success and hope that the entities that collect those taxes would do mostly good works with that money, and they are half right. Success does have a cost, but some American states are far superior to others in creating an advantageous business environment — for veterinarians and everyone else.

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The Tax Foundation has come out with its 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index, an analysis of over 100 tax variables in five different categories: corporate, individual income, sales, property and unemployment insurance taxes. Today’s hard-working but struggling veterinarians — taxed both personally and professionally — might want to use the information to rearrange their business life.

Remember, change is the price of survival. And there are some golden opportunities for veterinarians to find an American state that offers a “competitive and well-structured tax code.”

A “major reason for the perennial dominance” of some states “is their lack of a personal income tax and low corporate tax burdens,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Their sales and property taxes are also relatively modest.”

A nonpartisan tax research group, The Tax Foundation educates taxpayers about sound tax policy and the size of the tax burden borne by Americans. The data the foundation has compiled can help veterinarians gauge how their states’ tax system compares with other states.

“States are punished for overly complex, burdensome and economically harmful tax codes, and are rewarded for transparent and neutral tax codes that do not distort business decisions,” according to the Tax Foundation. “A state’s ranking can rise or fall significantly based not just on its own actions, but also on the changes or reforms made by other states.”

On an encouraging front, most of the states with the best business tax climate have fewer practicing veterinarians, while the worst tax states appear to be well stocked with veterinary practices. And it just so happens that the nation’s rural areas — places with favorable business climates — are suffering from a shortage of veterinarians.

Following are the best and worst states rated on their business tax climate (along with the estimated number of practicing veterinarians in that state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016):

1. Wyoming (200)

2. South Dakota (240)

3. Alaska (190)

4. Florida (3,610)

5. Nevada (490)

6. Montana (420)

7. New Hampshire (400)

8. Indiana (1,180)

9. Utah (360)

10. Oregon (1,370)

50. New Jersey (1,630)

49. New York (3,030)

48. California (6,360)

47. Vermont (220)

46. Minnesota (1,510)

45. Ohio (2,910)

44. Rhode Island (190)

43. Connecticut (740)

42. Maryland (1,540)

41. Louisiana (730)

Greg Kelly is a long-time health care writer and editor. He has written for the Physician’s Money DigestTM, Dentist’s Money DigestTM and Veterinarian’s Money DigestTM websites. He lives at the Jersey Shore and welcomes comments at gregkelly@monmouthbeachlife.com.