Editorial: Sun Journal erroneously compares N.H. and Maine taxes

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By J. Scott Moody, CEO
The Maine Heritage Policy Center

The Lewiston Sun Journal ran an inaccurate editorial on Sunday, July 15, “A taxing comparison to Maine,” that claimed Maine is not a high tax state compared to New Hampshire.

“The bottom line, though?” the editorial asked. “We Mainers paid fewer state taxes than our bordering neighbors during the first part of this year. And, interestingly enough, based on U.S. Census figures (which do not include local and federal taxes), we paid fewer state taxes during the same time . . . this rally cry that we’re the most taxed state in the country deserves more scrutiny than any sound bite can carry.”

Really? All the ink spilled over the last few decades about Maine’s high tax burden has been in vain? Rejoice, the Sun Journal declares it all a hoax!

The most useful way to gauge the tax burden is by comparing it with the productive capacity of the economy. The Sun Journal simply—and erroneously—looked at the absolute amount of taxes being paid in Maine and New Hampshire.

The editorial failed to consider that New Hampshire’s economy is sizably larger than Maine’s. For instance, in 2011 personal income in New Hampshire was 20 percent higher—that’s $10 billion more than in Maine ($60 billion in N.H. versus $50 billion in Maine).

The gap grows even wider if you consider just the private sector share of personal income. In 2011, New Hampshire’s private sector was 39 percent larger ($13 billion) than Maine’s ($46 billion versus $33 billion). Overall, New Hampshire has the largest private sector in the country, while Maine has only the 39th.

When looking at the total, it is no surprise that New Hamsphire would show higher tax collections than Maine. The difference is that those living in New Hampshire’s economy have a greater ability to pay than those of us in Maine’s economy.

As such, New Hampshire’s tax burden is one of the lowest in the country, while Maine’s remains one of the highest.

But we thank the Sun Journal for implicitly making one of our major points: a rising tide does truly lift all boats—including government coffers.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Believe half of what you read, none of what you hear. That is what my Father taught me. Good expose MD!

  2. Author makes a great, yet simple point, that we must compare apples to apples: “The editorial failed to consider that New Hampshire’s economy is sizably larger than Maine’s. For instance, in 2011 personal income in New Hampshire was 20 percent higher—that’s $10 billion more than in Maine ($60 billion in N.H. versus $50 billion in Maine). The gap grows even wider if you consider just the private sector share of personal income. In 2011, New Hampshire’s private sector was 39 percent larger ($13 billion) than Maine’s ($46 billion versus $33 billion).”

  3. No income tax, no sales tax in NH–property tax is probably double, but hardly is a factor v. the first two items.  Tell me why someone who is a creator and mobile who wants to live in Maine, does live in NH.  Maine is driving away people who could make this state hum.

  4. Also factor in that less than 50% of the population of Maine actually works and pays taxes thanks to 35 plus years of Democrat tyranny and their free spending welfare handouts to anyone who wanted them, thereby making far to many able bodied Mainers dependent on government handouts. The Sun Journal proved once again that they are more concerned with spreading the propaganda of the left than performing factual journalism.

  5. The one comment I would like to make here is that I also consider the NH policy of mostly relying on property taxes to be much more honest than Maine’s ‘nickel and dime me every time I turn around’ tax policies…  You want to live in NH?  Here is how much the state will take from you for the privilege of being here.  Easy to understand, straight forward and simply honest.  In Maine, it is the old ‘death by 10,000 cuts’ approach; they seem to hope that you won’t even notice the money leaving your pockets just a little bit at a time…

  6. The facts presented here prove once again that the private sectors in each state are the job creators and tax revenue generators for the goverments of those states.

     How many times must we prove these points before the federal government gets off our backs and let us supply MORE tax money than they will ever get by force ?

  7. Hi!

    Doesn’t the Sun Journal have a history of misrepresenting the facts?

    No sales tax nor income taxes in New Hampshire but the property taxes are high. I have a brother who lives in New Hampshire (he left Maine in 1971 plus his wife, and they never returned), and I hear him complaining each year about how much his property taxes has gone up.

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