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State Taxes at a Glancefrom:
State taxes are enforced contributions levied upon individuals by their state of residence. Except for Alaska, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, South Dakota, Texas and Florida, every state in the union imposes a state tax in the form of a percentage to a resident's income. These percentage rates can vary from the highest at 9.5% for Vermont residents to a low of 3% for residents of Illinois. States such as Tennessee and New Hampshire only allow a state tax on interest and dividend income. State taxes are collected annually and are combined with other forms of direct and indirect tax contributions to pay for state facilities, programs and services.
The majority of states apply a tax rate to incomes on a progressive scale. The larger a resident's income, the more tax they will pay. While a lack of state taxes can sound promising, those not enforcing this type of tax generally obtain their revenues elsewhere, often through sales or excise taxes. Purchasing goods or cigarettes and alcohol tend to be higher in states such as Washington than they are in North Carolina. There is much debate as to the benefits of this type of taxation as it can be a plus or minus for both individuals and businesses. States such as Nevada obtain proceeds by means of their renowned gambling industry.
When and where warranted, state taxes are filed annually with federal taxes. Because tax laws vary from state to state, each will have their own type of tax forms. Like federal returns, taxpayers can opt for a long form or a short form. Individuals and businesses with more complex tax returns usually rely on the services of a professional tax preparer. This is especially true when businesses or individuals divide their time or make income in multiple states. While these forms are widely available in places such as post offices and libraries, now more than ever taxpayers file their federal and state taxes online.
Unless one applies for an extension, state taxes are filed every year by a certain date in the month of April. While it can vary from state to state, individuals in the military or those who fall under certain income guidelines are the only ones who may not be required to file. It is best to always obtain the advice of a tax professional when questions about federal or state taxes arise. The penalties with accruals that come with failure to file or file correctly based on deceptive or frivolous intent can make for a most uncomfortable situation. In worst case scenarios and offenses, individuals can face imprisonment.
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