Oklahoma’s poor pay high sales tax, rich low property tax

Oklahoma, with low property taxes, average income tax and high on sales tax, was ranked in the bottom half of the states overall in terms of tax fairness.

A WalletHub study (2015’s Most and Least Fair State Tax Systems) reported on by John S. Kiernan suggests that Oklahoma’s taxation system has a disproportionate impact on the poor and middle class.

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and city councilors are promoting an increase in the regressive sales tax that would place a greater burden on Tulsa’s poor and middle class as compared to an increase in property taxes.

And according to county records, Tulsa has the highest property tax rates in Oklahoma.

Conservatives in the Oklahoma Legislature have been trying for several years to significantly reduce the state income tax rate or even eliminate it have been thwarted by special interest groups, the Oklahoma Education Association and the liberal news media.

According to the WalletHub study, Oklahoma is No. 3 in the category of “least dependent on property taxes.” Oklahoma ranks No. 37 in “least dependent on sales and excise taxes.” Oklahoma is No. 16 of 50 in “least dependent on personal and corporate income tax.” And Oklahoma ranks No. 44 “least dependency on other taxes.”

Some states don’t have sales tax and others (including Texas, Florida and Wyoming) don’t have a state income tax.

“Many families face high property-tax burdens whereas others enjoy generous tax credits,” Kiernan wrote. “Such diversity in taxation policies begs the question: Which tax systems are most fair?”

Some of the findings were:

  • The poor are most overtaxed in Washington, Hawaii and Illinois; the wealthiest 1 percent are most undertaxed in Wyoming, Nevada and Florida.
  • The middle class is most overtaxed in Arkansas, New York and Mississippi.
  • Most Americans think “fair” state and local tax systems impose higher taxes on higher-income households than on lower-income households.
  • Current state and local tax systems are, on average, unfair. While most Americans — liberals and conservatives — think a progressive tax system is most fair, virtually every state has regressive state and local tax structures.
  • Both “blue” states and “red” states are found to overtax the poor and undertax the rich, relative to what most Americans consider “fair.”
  • Survey respondents think state and local tax systems are fair when higher-income households pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than lower-income. Answers ranged from a low of 2.5 percent tax for households earning $5,000 annually to a high of 16.36 percent tax for households making $2.5 million per year.
  • The survey shows low-income, middle-income, and high-income respondents all say that a progressive tax structure is most fair.