Colorado fares well in latest assessment of state business climates

Colorado ranks 15th among the 50 states in the latest assessment of how taxes affect businesses.

While Colorado dropped two spots in the State Business Tax Climate Index for 2011, the state  continues to fare well overall in the annual ranking with comparatively low income, property and unemployment insurance taxes.

Compiled by the Tax Foundation — a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., that monitors government fiscal policy — the index compares state tax systems based on corporate, income, property, sales and unemployment tax rates.

The index also gauges whether or not states provide a level playing field by treating all businesses the same in terms of deductions, exemptions or tax credits.

“States do not enact tax changes in a vacuum. Every tax change will affect a state’s competitive position relative to its neighbors,” said Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation.

At 15th, the 2011 ranking is the lowest for Colorado over the past five years. Colorado came in at 13th in 2010 and 2009 after climbing to 10th in 2008.

Colorado ranked 12th among the 50 states in terms of the lowest corporate income tax rate and 16th for the lowest individual income tax rate, both at 4.63 percent. Colorado ranked 15th for the lowest per capita property tax collections of $1,322. That equates to an average of 3.25 percent of income. Colorado ranked 17th for its maximum unemployment insurance tax rate of 5.4 percent.

Colorado ranked higher at 29th for sales taxes with a state rate of 2.9 percent. Local jurisdictions add an average of 4.07 percent in additional sales tax, though, bringing the total average sales tax rate to 6.97 percent. State sales taxes on gasoline, diesel, cigarettes and liquor also were considered in the ranking.

South Dakota remained the top-ranked state in the 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index, followed by Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada and Florida. Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware, Utah and Indiana rounded out the top 10.

“The top eight tax systems all raise sufficient revenue without imposing one or two of the three major state taxes — sales taxes, personal income taxes and corporate income taxes,” Hodge said.

New York dropped a spot to No. 50 to offer the least hospitable business climate as assessed by the index. California, New Jersey and Ohio remained in the bottom five, joined there this year by Connecticut. Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island and North Carolina rounded out the bottom 10.