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home | Taxes | Tax Odds & Ends for Retirees

Tax Odds & Ends for Retirees
Ivan Gillis
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Tax Odds & Ends for Retirees


Americans will spend more on taxes in 2008 than on food, clothing, and housing combined, according to Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge. This year, Americans worked 74 days to pay their federal taxes and 39 days more to cover state and local levies, the Tax Foundation calculated. There's not much you can do about the federal taxes if you want to live in the United States, but the state and local tax burden varies considerably by location. The most expensive state and local taxes are typically sales and excise taxes (14 days' pay), property taxes (12 days' pay), and income tax (10 days' pay).


Of course if you have been reading our articles, you are aware that the following states have NO state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, Texas, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.


Locations with other than no state income tax benefit:


Stafford, Texas, a suburb of Houston, eliminated its property tax in 1995.


Manchester, N.H. has no sales or traditional income tax, but New Hampshire does levy a 5 percent tax on interest and dividend income above $2,400 annually ($4,800 for couples). Residents ages 65 and older pay tax only on amounts above $3,600, and that's outside your retirement accounts. Withdrawals from retirement accounts are not taxed in New Hampshire.


Nashville-Davidson County, Tenn., allows homeowners ages 65 and older earning less than $35,390 in 2007 to freeze the amount of property tax due on their primary residence in the year they qualify, even if tax rates increase later. The frozen dollar amount will rise if the owner sells or makes improvements to the house. If the house drops in value and the current taxes become lower than the frozen amount, homeowners pay the lower amount. And like New Hampshire, Tennessee also doesn't tax earned income, just dividends and interest.


Alaska is the most tax friendly state for retirees.The geographically largest state in the union is the only one without any kind of income or sales tax. The city of Juneau levies a 5 percent sales tax, but seniors ages 65 and older who have lived in the city for at least 30 days and plan to remain indefinitely in the state can get a Senior Sales Tax Exemption Card for a $20 application fee. Those over age 65 may also be eligible for a senior-citizen property tax exemption on the first $150,000 of assessed value. All Alaska residents with at least one year in the state also receive annual Alaska Permanent Fund dividends. The payout was an unusually high $3,269 in 2008, but even more typical dividends have been nothing to scoff at, ranging from $827 to $1,964 over the past two decades. This dividend may be taxed as income on federal tax returns.



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