A new report suggests New Yorkers could hardly be blamed if they felt the state’s motto ‘Excelsior’—Latin for “ever upward”—refers to their taxes.

WalletHub released a new ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on the burden they impose on different brackets of the income scale—not just through income excises, but levies on purchases and property, paid both to Albany and to localities. The site estimated what earners of $25,000, $50,000 and $150,000 would pay in each location.

New York extracts the most of any state or Washington, D.C., from the latter two categories, taking 12.70% and 12.40% of their income, respectively. WalletHub found it wrings 11.61% of the $25,000-earner’s pay, making it the sixth costliest nationwide.

The study determined Alaska is the kindest to the rich and middle class, while Delaware is best to the poor, at least in terms of taxes.

But WalletHub’s assessment drew criticism from both left- and right-wing experts Crain’s consulted.

E.J. McMahon of the fiscally conservative Empire Center noted that the study relied on data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, whose methodology he described as “lousy.” McMahon further asserted that New York state contains multiple regional economies and differences in tax codes that make such statewide analyses inaccurate.

Liberal economist James Parrott of the New School objected to Wallethub’s definition of persons making $150,000 as “high income,” noting that the state’s richest 1% of residents draw down more than $780,000 each year—and, he argued, do not pay a sufficient share of taxes.

He also asserted that the study overlooks how corporate taxes have failed to keep pace with the state’s economy. This, Parrott claimed, deprives governments of money that could be used to defray the low-income tax burden.

The state income-tax rate on every income bracket has gone down since 2011, and a 2% cap on annual property tax increases has been in place for most of this decade.

© 2019 Crain’s New York Business

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