Census says state residents paying more taxes

Wednesday, October 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- An influx of low-wage jobs supporting the growing hog production industry in the Oklahoma Panhandle contributed to higher taxes as a percentage of income than the national average, state officials said.

The finding is reflected in U.S. Census Bureau figures released Wednesday comparing 1998 with 1999.

Oklahoma lags behind the national average based on per capita taxes, but the state collected more as a percentage of personal income.

"What a number of economists are saying now is that we don't have a job creation problem, but an income growth problem," said Shawn Ashley, a spokesman for the State Finance Office.

A contributing factor is the difference in wages from new jobs created compared to higher-paying jobs lost in the 1980s oil bust, Ashley said.

Oklahoma's per capita tax burden rose from $1,584 to $1,613, a $29 increase, according to the Census Bureau.

Nationally, per-capita taxes collected by states averaged $1,835. Oklahoma ranked 34th.

"The good news is we are about dead center on what we pay,"

State Auditor Clifton Scott said. "The bad news is that that out personal income is only about 80 percent of the national average."

Average per capita collections were highest in Connecticut with $2,932 and lowest in New Hampshire, which collected $891.

Taxes taken as a percentage of per capita personal income were 7.03 in Oklahoma, ranking the state 19th in that category. The national average in 1999 was 6.43 percent. The highest was 9.7 percent in Hawaii and the lowest was 2.68 percent, also in New Hampshire.

Oklahoma state revenue rose 2.2 percent in 1999, the figures show, with collections from income, sales and other tax sources increasing from $5.3 billion to $5.4 billion last year. The state ranked 28th in overall collections.

"In terms of what these numbers show we have a rather vibrant economy," Ashley said.

Nationally, state governments collected 5 percent more taxes over the period, raking in about $500 billion last year.

California led states with $72.4 billion in 1999 collections, followed by New York, Texas and Florida.