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Updated Jan 03, 2024

The 10 Best (and Worst) States for Small Business Taxes

Natalie Hamingson
Natalie Hamingson, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer

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The amount of state and local taxes you pay each year can have a huge impact on your business’s bottom line. They also impact the economic and employment growth of the area where your business is located. That’s why it’s important to know what kind of tax burden you’ll face when deciding where to launch your business.

To aid small business owners and entrepreneurs in making the best decision possible, the Tax Foundation released the State Business Tax Climate Index for 2023, which ranks states’ tax structures. This index revealed that Wyoming and South Dakota are the best states for small business taxes while New Jersey and New York are the worst. Read ahead for the top 10 best and worst states for small business taxes, along with detailed breakdowns of each ranking. 

The business tax climate for 2024

While ranking the states is never easy, especially since each has a different tax system, the Tax Foundation conducted its index analysis by comparing more than 100 factors across five different types of taxes:

  • Corporate taxes
  • Individual income taxes
  • State taxes
  • Unemployment insurance taxes
  • Property taxes

According to the Tax Foundation’s analysis, many of the top 10 states for taxes share the absence of a major tax. Wyoming, Nevada (which has gross receipts taxes) and South Dakota have no corporate or individual income tax. Alaska doesn’t have individual income or sales tax at the state level, and there’s no income tax in Florida. Oregon, New Hampshire and Montana have no sales tax.

This does not mean that a state cannot rank in the top 10 while still levying all of the major taxes. Indiana and Utah, for example, levy all of the major tax types, but with low rates on a broad basis. 

Did You Know?Did you know

The best states for small business taxes either don’t enforce all five major tax types or they have overall lower tax rates across all categories.

The 10 best states for small business taxes in 2024

1. Wyoming

  • Corporate tax rank: 1 (no income tax levied)
  • Individual income tax rank: 1 (no income tax levied)
  • Sales tax rank: 6
  • Property tax rank: 34
  • Unemployment tax rank: 28

2. South Dakota

  • Corporate tax rank: 1 (no income tax levied)
  • Individual income tax rank: 1 (no income tax levied)
  • Sales tax rank: 34
  • Property tax rank: 14
  • Unemployment tax rank: 37

3. Alaska

  • Corporate tax rank: 28
  • Individual income tax rank: 1 (no income tax levied)
  • Sales tax rank: 5
  • Property tax rank: 26
  • Unemployment insurance tax rank: 44

4. Florida

  • Corporate tax rank: 10
  • Individual income tax rank: 1 (no income tax levied)
  • Sales tax rank: 21
  • Property tax rank: 12
  • Unemployment tax rank: 3

5. Montana

  • Corporate tax rank: 22
  • Individual income tax rank: 24
  • Sales tax rank: 3
  • Property tax rank: 21
  • Unemployment tax rank: 18

6. New Hampshire

  • Corporate tax rank: 44
  • Individual income tax rank: 9
  • Sales tax rank: 1
  • Property tax rank: 43
  • Unemployment tax rank: 45

7. Nevada

  • Corporate tax rank: 25
  • Individual income tax rank: 5
  • Sales tax rank: 44
  • Property tax rank: 5
  • Unemployment tax rank: 46

8. Utah

  • Corporate tax rank: 14
  • Individual income tax rank: 10
  • Sales tax rank: 22
  • Property tax rank: 8
  • Unemployment tax rank: 16

9. Indiana

  • Corporate tax rank: 11
  • Individual income tax rank: 15
  • Sales tax rank: 19
  • Property tax rank: 2
  • Unemployment tax rank: 27

10. North Carolina

  • Corporate tax rank: 5
  • Individual income tax rank: 17
  • Sales tax rank: 20
  • Property tax rank: 13
  • Unemployment tax rank: 10

On the flip side, New Jersey and California are among the worst states for small business taxes, because research shows that business owners who live there pay twice as much as they would somewhere else.

FYIDid you know

The top 10 best states for small business taxes all rank under #25 for individual income taxes. This makes them the top half of all states for small business taxes.

The 10 worst states for small business taxes in 2024

1. New Jersey

  • Corporate tax rank: 48
  • Individual income tax rank:48
  • Sales tax rank: 42
  • Property tax rank: 45
  • Unemployment tax rank: 32

2. New York

  • Corporate tax rank: 24
  • Individual income tax rank: 50
  • Sales tax rank: 43
  • Property tax rank: 49
  • Unemployment tax rank: 40

3. California

  • Corporate tax rank: 46
  • Individual income tax rank: 49
  • Sales tax rank: 47
  • Property tax rank: 19
  • Unemployment tax rank: 24

4. Connecticut

  • Corporate tax rank: 27
  • Individual income tax rank: 47
  • Sales tax rank: 23
  • Property tax rank: 50
  • Unemployment tax rank: 23

5. Maryland

  • Corporate tax rank: 33
  • Individual income tax rank: 45
  • Sales tax rank: 30
  • Property tax rank: 42
  • Unemployment tax rank: 41

6. Minnesota

  • Corporate tax rank: 43
  • Individual income tax rank: 43
  • Sales tax rank: 29
  • Property tax rank: 31
  • Unemployment tax rank: 34

7. Vermont

  • Corporate tax rank: 41
  • Individual income tax rank: 39
  • Sales tax rank: 17
  • Property tax rank: 48
  • Unemployment tax rank: 17

8. Hawaii

  • Corporate tax rank: 19
  • Individual income tax rank: 46
  • Sales tax rank: 27
  • Property tax rank: 32
  • Unemployment tax rank: 30

9. Rhode Island

  • Corporate tax rank: 40 
  • Individual income tax rank: 33
  • Sales tax rank: 24
  • Property tax rank: 41
  • Unemployment tax rank: 49

10. Alabama

  • Corporate tax rank: 18
  • Individual income tax rank: 30
  • Sales tax rank: 50
  • Property tax rank: 18
  • Unemployment tax rank: 19

The states in the bottom 10 tend to have a number of afflictions in common: complex, nonneutral taxes with comparatively high rates. New Jersey, for example, is hampered by some of the highest property tax burdens in the country, a high corporate income tax rate and particularly aggressive treatment of international income. The Garden State also levies an inheritance tax and maintains some of the nation’s worst-structured income taxes.

Choosing where to start a small business

According to the Tax Foundation’s analysis, taxes can impact job creation and retention, business location and a company’s profitability. If taxes take a larger chunk of the profits, that cost is passed along to consumers, employees, shareholders or some combination of these. As you can imagine, a state with lower taxes appeals more to businesses.

While the physical location of a business may have lost some of its influence in today’s world, those launching a small business or startup in the United States have definite advantages over those launching anywhere else. Here is a list of some of the best states to start a business in each region:

  • New Hampshire: New Hampshire is extremely business-friendly and welcoming for entrepreneurs with its abundance of government resources and lack of state sales tax. New Hampshire residents also earn more income, on average, than residents in many other states. That suggests businesses might have an easier time selling their products and services.
  • North Carolina: North Carolina is home to “The Triangle,” a well-known tech hub, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best states to start a business. With the combined low corporate tax rates, low property taxes and low cost of living, North Carolina has a lot to offer entrepreneurs seeking a place to start a small business.
  • Texas: While it didn’t make the list of top 10 states with the best taxes for small businesses, it does offer no corporate income tax and an ever-growing number of tech, energy and medical enterprises filing for business licenses each year.
  • Utah: Small business owners will find that Utah has low corporate taxes and the 10th-highest percentage of approved SBA 7(a) loans. Similar to North Carolina, Utah has a large college-educated workforce.
  • Montana: While Montana used to conjure thoughts of mountains, ranches and open plains, you should now include small businesses in that image as well. With the fourth-highest rate of entrepreneurs in the country, Montana seems to know the value that businesses, both large and small, bring to the state. The workforce’s high percentage of college graduates and lack of a sales tax also add to the state’s attractive qualities for business founders.
TipTip

States with lower taxes mean fewer costs are passed on to the consumer, your employees or shareholders. This makes it easier to grow your business.

Running a small business in any state

Even though small businesses are good for local economies, some states are more friendly to them than others. States that don’t include all the major tax categories tend to be best for small businesses that want to reduce their tax liability. That said, local taxes can get complicated and addressing them isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Entrepreneurs who have flexibility with where they launch their business should review the nuances of all local tax regulations before making their decision. 

Julianna Lopez and Chad Brooks contributed to this article.

Natalie Hamingson
Natalie Hamingson, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Natalie Hamingson has spent more than 15 years researching and studying print and digital communications with a recent focus on business operations. She has hands-on experience with a range of software tools, from Salesforce to Buffer, and has also worked with data entry systems and accounting administration. Hamingson is adept at managing contact and financial data, conveying high-level concepts to a variety of clients and targeting different audiences through various mediums (email campaigns, longform writing, etc.). With a bachelor's degree from UCLA in communications studies, she excels at helping small business owners by providing counsel on website and social media content, marketing strategies, product descriptions and tools for accounting, payroll and sales.
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