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10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees, 2017



These 10 states impose the highest taxes on retirees, according to Kiplinger’s 2017 analysis of state taxes. One treats Social Security benefits just like Uncle Sam—taxing up to 85% of your benefits. Six others tax Social Security benefits if your earnings exceed specific income thresholds. Exemptions for other types of retirement income are limited or nonexistent. In several states, property taxes are on the high side, too.

For 2017, we prepared a sample tax return for every state for a hypothetical couple with income from Social Security, a private pension, $5,000 in dividends, and a required minimum withdrawal from an individual retirement account. (See our methodology on the last slide for details.) Our hypothetical couple claims the standard deduction, so tax proposals by Republican lawmakers to eliminate or limit the deduction for state and local taxes and property taxes wouldn’t affect them. If you do itemize, take a hard look at how the loss of those deductions could affect the effective rate you pay, and how much of your income will be exempt.


Our goal is to show how state and local taxes affect retirement income, and our results may surprise you. Because many states allow you to shelter a significant amount of retirement income from taxes, some high-tax states, such as New Jersey and Illinois, are pretty friendly for retirees. Other states with relatively low tax rates take a bigger bite out of retirees’ budgets because most of their income is taxed.

Of course, every household’s situation is different. Take a look to see how you’d fare as a retiree in these states. The worst comes first.

SEE ALSO: RETIREE TAX MAP: State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees

SEE ALSO: SLIDE SHOW: 10 Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirees, 2017


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