Here’s what your tax dollar buys you in every state. How does Pa. stack up? | The Numbers Racket

By: - April 12, 2021 7:24 am

In a normal year, this week is usually the last week for taxpayers to file their annual returns. However, the ongoing pandemic has extended that again this year to mid-May. 

While filing may not be due yet, WalletHub, a personal finance website, broke down the best and worst taxpayer return on investment (ROI) across each state in its latest report. 

To determine the ROI for taxpayers, WalletHub compared the quality of government services received by residents to the state and local taxes they pay.

Source: WalletHub

Top 10 states for best taxpayer ROI: 

  • New Hampshire
  • Florida
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Nebraska
  • Tennessee

The 10 worst states for taxpayer ROI: 

  1. Hawaii
  2. California
  3. New Mexico
  4. North Dakota
  5. Delaware
  6. Nevada
  7. New York
  8. Arkansas
  9. Louisiana
  10. Vermont

Keystone State Findings

On a scale with 1 being the best and 25th being the average, Pennsylvania ranked 26th for overall ROI. Similarly, Pennsylvania ranked 27th for total taxes per capita (population aged 18+). 

Pennsylvania also ranked: 

  • 22nd – Education
  • 19th – Health
  • 16th – Safety
  • 38th – Economy
  • 37th – Infrastructure & Pollution

It shouldn’t come as a shock to any Pennsylvanian that the commonwealth’s roads and bridges ranked among the worst, coming in at 48th out of 50, just ahead of West Virginia and Rhode Island. 


WalletHub analyzed each of the 50 states across five metrics:1) Education, 20; 2) Health, 20; 3) Safety, 20; 4) Economy, 20 and 5) Infrastructure & Pollution, 20. The categories were further broken down into 30 relevant metrics, which are listed in the report with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best quality of government service.

To find a state’s overall score in a category, WalletHub used a weighted average across all 30 metrics. 

After an overall score in a category has been calculated, WalletHub then constructed the Taxpayer ROI ranking by comparing each state’s “Overall Government Services Score” to its “Total Taxes Paid per Capita.” “Per Capita” includes the population aged 18 and older.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.