Colorado ranks 18th in state tax analysis

Colorado ranks 18th among the 50 states in the latest results of an annual analysis of how taxes affect business.

Colorado slipped two spots in the State Business Climate Index for 2013, but continues to fare comparatively well in terms of lower corporate, income and property taxes.

The Tax Foundation — a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., that monitors government fiscal policy — compiles the index each year to compare state tax systems and how those systems affect business.

The index takes into account information on more than 100 tax provisions for each state in calculating a single score for that state and then ranking the states by score. Among other things, the index takes into account corporate, income, property, sales and unemployment insurance taxes.

Given the ability of companies to move to states with the most friendly businesses environments — and the economic and employment benefits that follow — taxes matter, said Scott Drenkard, an economist with the Tax Foundation. “Even in our global economy, a state’s stiffest and most direct competition often comes from other states,” Drenkard said.

“State lawmakers need to be aware of how their states’ business climates match up to their immediate neighbors and to other states in the regions.”

The latest ranking is the lowest for Colorado in the six years since the state climbed to 10th in 2008.

For 2013, Colorado ranked highest at ninth in the comparison of property taxes, 16th for individual income taxes and 20th for corporate taxes. The state ranked 39th, however, for unemployment insurance taxes, after dropping 16 spots from the 2012 index. Colorado ranked still lower at 44th for sales taxes.

Wyoming remained the top-ranked state in the 2013 index. Rankings also remained unchanged for the remainder of the top five states: South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska and Florida. Utah came in at 10th.

Many of the top-ranked states don’t impose major statewide taxes.

Wyoming, South Dakota and Nevada don’t assess corporate or individual income taxes. Alaska has no individual income or state sales taxes.

In contrast, New York moved down one spot to rank 50th in the 2013 index with the worst-ranked individual income taxes and sixth-worst rankings for property and unemployment insurance taxes. New Jersey moved up a spot to 49th, followed by California, Vermont and Rhode Island.

The worst-performing states in the index impose comparatively high tax rates under what are often complex, non-neutral tax systems.