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This Is the Average Tax Debt in Every State

Doug Whiteman
This Is the Average Tax Debt in Every State

As they juggle heavy student loan debt and other bills, millions of Americans struggle to pay their taxes and often fall woefully behind.

More than 13 million taxpayer accounts are considered delinquent — past due — by the IRS, and the debt management company Solvable estimates Americans owe an astounding $527 billion in federal and state taxes.

Financial website LendEDU analyzed tax debt data from Solvable and has found that in some states, taxpayers are in much deeper holes than in the others.

Follow along to see how the states and the District of Columbia rank for average federal and state tax debt, plus the most common reasons taxpayers are in debt. The countdown ends with the state where people who are behind on their taxes owe close to $30,000, on average.

51. New Mexico

Jimack / Shutterstock
Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In New Mexico, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $13,878.

New Mexicans' top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (cited by 16.75% of respondents).
  2. Taxes were never filed (cited by 16.23%).
  3. Taxes were greater than expected (13.09%)

50. West Virginia

Rui Serra Maia / Shutterstock
Historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

In West Virginia, delinquent taxpayers owe an average of $14,325 each.

Among West Virginians, the top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.43%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (12.77%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (12.23%).

49. North Carolina

digidreamgrafix / Shutterstock
The skyline in Charlotte, North Carolina.

People in North Carolina with unpaid tax bills are in the hole by an average $14,657 apiece.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Tar Heel State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (19.04%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (13.53%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.30%).

48. Louisiana

Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock
The New Orleans downtown skyline.

In Louisiana, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $14,731

The Pelican State's top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (17.57%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.02%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (13.01%).

47. South Carolina

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The skyline in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In South Carolina, delinquent taxpayers owe $14,772, on average.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Palmetto State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (16.09%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (13.79%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (12.81%).

46. Utah

anthony heflin / Shutterstock
Evening at Arches National Park, Utah.

People who are behind on their taxes in Utah owe an average $14,875 per person.

Among people in the Beehive State, the three most common reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.55%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (16.29%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (12.22%).

45. Missouri

STLJB / Shutterstock
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

People in Missouri with unpaid tax bills are in the red by an average $14,961 each.

Missourians' top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (13.39%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (12.17%).
  3. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (11.30%).

44. Mississippi

Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock
The Mississippi River at Natchez, Mississippi.

In Mississippi, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $15,003.

Among Mississippians, the top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (17.17%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (16.57%).
  3. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (12.65%).

43. Oklahoma

Gerson Repreza / Shutterstock
Downtown Oklahoma City.

In Oklahoma, delinquent taxpayers owe an average of $15,103 per person.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Sooner State are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.33%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (14.84%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (13.63%).

42. Indiana

Sue Smith / Shutterstock
A road sign welcoming visitors to Indiana.

People who are behind on their taxes in Indiana are in the hole by an average $15,589 each.

The top three reasons for tax debt among Hoosiers are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (14.68%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (14.22%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.61%).

41. Alabama

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock
Road leading to the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

In Alabama, taxpayers with delinquencies owe $15,642, on average.

The three most common reasons for tax debt in the Yellowhammer State are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (16.62%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (14.41%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.68%).

40. Georgia

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Savannah, Georgia.

In Georgia, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $15,781.

Among Georgians, the top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (17.90%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (15.88%).
  3. Taxes were greater than expected (13.12%).

39. Tennessee

alexkich / Shutterstock
Nashville, Tennessee, is the capital of country music.

People in Tennessee with unpaid tax bills owe an average $15,916 each.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Volunteer State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.77%)
  2. Taxes were never filed (14.80%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (12.64%).

Note that Tennessee doesn't have a state tax on wage income.

38. Arizona

JeniFoto / Shutterstock
Sunset in the desert near Phoenix.

In Arizona, delinquent taxpayers owe an average of $15,978 each.

The three most common reasons people have tax debt in the Grand Canyon State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (15.23%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.73%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (13.73%).

37. Ohio

aceshot1 / Shutterstock
Ohio flags waving at the Statehouse in Columbus.

In Ohio, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $16,012.

Among people in the Buckeye State, the top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (16.36%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (15.81%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.49%).

36. Arkansas

Matt Wunder / Shutterstock
A hiking trail near Fayetteville, Arkansas.

People who owe money on their taxes in Arkansas are in the red by an average $16,197 per person.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Natural State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (16.08%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.33%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (12.81%).

35. Texas

photo.ua / Shutterstock
Downtown Dallas in the morning.

In Texas, taxpayers who are delinquent owe an average of $16,378 each.

Among people in the Lone Star State, the three most common reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (16.15%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (15.37%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.20%).

Note that Texas is one of the seven states that don't have a state income tax.

34. Maryland

FloridaStock / Shutterstock
The harbor in Annapolis, Maryland.

In Maryland, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $16,391.

Marylanders' top three reasons for winding up with tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.91%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.81%).
  3. (tie) Taxes were never filed (12.41%).
  4. (tie) Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (12.41%).

33. Nevada

f11photo / Shutterstock
The world-famous Las Vegas Strip.

In Nevada, delinquent taxpayers owe an average of $16,448 each.

These are the three most common reasons for tax debt in the Silver State:

  1. Taxes were never filed (16.16%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (15.85%).
  3. (tie) Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (10.98%).
  4. (tie) Penalties built up from back taxes (10.98%).

Note that Nevada is another state that doesn't have a state income tax.

32. Pennsylvania

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

In Pennsylvania, people who are behind on their taxes owe an average $16,674 per person.

The three biggest reasons residents of the Keystone State have tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.81%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (14.60%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.25%).

31. New Hampshire

Doug Lemke / Shutterstock
Lighthouse in New Castle, New Hampshire.

People in New Hampshire with unpaid tax bills are in the hole by an average $16,756 per person.

The three most common reasons for tax debt in the Granite State are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (14.81%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.81%).
  3. Taxes were greater than expected (13.58%).

Note that New Hampshire doesn't have a state tax on wage income.

30. Rhode Island

Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock
The skyline in Providence, Rhode Island.

In Rhode Island, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $16,875.

Rhode Islanders' top three reasons for having tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (16.67%).
  2. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (16.67%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (15.15%).

29. Minnesota

Photo Image / Shutterstock
A bridge in Minneapolis after a snowfall.

In Minnesota, delinquent taxpayers owe an average of $16,889 each.

The three biggest reasons for tax debt in the North Star State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.13%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (16.21%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (12.91%).

28. California

robert cicchetti / Shutterstock
Palm Springs, California.

People in California with unpaid tax bills are in the red by an average $17,096 apiece.

Californians' most common reasons for falling into tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (14.99%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.51%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (14.23%).

27. Virginia

Rui Serra Maia / Shutterstock
A horse-drawn carriage in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Taxpayers who are delinquent in Virginia owe $17,104, on average.

In the Old Dominion, the top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (17.97%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (13.56%).
  3. (tie) Penalties built up from back taxes (13.39%).
  4. (tie) Divorce (13.39%).

26. Iowa

f11photo / Shutterstock
The Des Moines, Iowa, skyline.

In Iowa, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $17,167.

The most frequent reasons residents of the Hawkeye State find themselves with tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (16.10%).
  2. Divorce (15.25%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (14.41%).

25. Kentucky

Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock
A horse farm in central Kentucky.

In Kentucky, delinquent taxpayers owe an average of $17,459 per person.

The top reasons for tax debt in the Bluegrass State are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.02%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (12.81%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (11.08%).

24. Colorado

Doubletree Studio / Shutterstock
Skiing in Vail, Colorado.

In Colorado, people with unpaid tax bills are in the hole by $17,493, on average.

The biggest reasons for tax debt in the Centennial State are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (16.10%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.31%).
  3. Taxes were greater than expected (14.51%).

23. Florida

Mia2you / Shutterstock
Miami Beach, Florida.

In Florida, taxpayers who are delinquent owe an average $17,526 each.

The most common reasons people get into trouble with tax debt in the Sunshine State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (16.41%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (15.09%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.65%).

Note that Florida is another state that doesn't have a state income tax.

22. Oregon

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Eugene, Oregon, at dusk.

In Oregon, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $17,698.

Among residents of the Beaver State, the top reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.69%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.64%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (12.46%).

21. Kansas

Eugene R Thieszen / Shutterstock
Lightning striking a Kansas wheat field.

In Kansas, delinquent taxpayers owe a steep $17,776, on average.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Sunflower State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (13.65%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (12.29%).
  3. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (12.29%).

20. Wisconsin

Jay Yuan / Shutterstock
The State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, at sunset.

In Wisconsin, the average debt among people who are behind on their taxes is $18,146.

The three biggest reasons residents of the Badger State wind up in tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (15.31%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.33%).
  3. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket ( 11.60%).

19. Michigan

rlassman / Shutterstock
Downtown Detroit.

Taxpayers who have fallen behind on paying in Michigan owe an average $18,199 each.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the Great Lakes State (or the Wolverine State — take your pick) are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (15.40%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (14.03%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.49%).

18. Washington

dibrova / Shutterstock
The skyline in Seattle, Washington.

In Washington state, taxpayers who are delinquent owe an average $18,250 per person.

The three most common reasons for tax debt in the Evergreen State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (17.26%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.80%).
  3. Divorce (12.47%).

Note that Washington is another state that doesn't have a state income tax.

17. Illinois

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The skyline in Chicago.

In Illinois, the average debt among people who have fallen behind on their taxes is $18,409.

The Prairie State's three biggest reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (15.67%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (14.46%).
  3. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.47%).

16. New York

Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock
Beautiful Niagara Falls, from the New York side.

In New York, delinquent taxpayers owe a sizable $18,489, on average.

The top three reasons for tax debt among New Yorkers are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (15.08%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.77%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (13.48%).

15. New Jersey

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In New Jersey, taxpayers who have fallen behind owe an average $18,741 per person.

Among people who live in the Garden State, the most common reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (17.22%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (15.01%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (13.27%).

14. Montana

Robert Paulus / Shutterstock
The Flathead River in Montana.

In Montana, taxpayers who are delinquent owe an average $19,226 each.

The three top reasons for tax debt in the Big Sky State are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (21.05%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (11.84%).
  3. (tie) Taxes were never filed (10.53%)
  4. (tie) Divorce (10.53%)

13. Nebraska

Martin Hobelman / Shutterstock
Historic Chimney Rock near Bayard, Nebraska.

In Nebraska, the average debt among people who have fallen behind on their taxes is $19,241

The three biggest reasons Nebraskans get into trouble with tax debt are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (20.56%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.08%).
  3. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (11.21%).

12. Hawaii

Lynn Yeh / Shutterstock
A surfer at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

In Hawaii, the average tax debt per person is $19,470.

The top reasons people fall behind on their taxes in the Aloha State are:

  1. Taxes were never filed (15.88%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (15.29%).
  3. (tie) Divorce (13.53%).
  4. (tie) Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (13.53%).

11. Massachusetts

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The Boston skyline at dusk.

In Massachusetts, taxpayers who are delinquent owe an average $19,500 per person.

Residents of the Bay State most often fall into tax debt because of:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.40%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (15.15%).
  3. Divorce (14.65%).

10. District of Columbia

Orhan Cam / Shutterstock
The view up Pennsylvania Avenue, looking at the

In Washington, D.C., the average debt among people who have fallen behind on their taxes is $19,586.

The top three reasons for tax debt in the nation's capital are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (21.05%).
  2. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (17.54%).
  3. (tie) Taxes were never filed (14.04%).
  4. (tie) Divorce (14.04%).

9. Delaware

Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock
Wilmington, Delaware, along the Christiana River.

In this small state, delinquent taxpayers owe an outsize $19,783, on average.

The three biggest reasons for tax debt in Delaware are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected ( 17.59%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (15.74%).
  3. Taxpayer moved into a higher tax bracket (13.89%).

8. Idaho

Charles Knowles / Shutterstock
Boise, Idaho, in the fall.

In Idaho, people with unpaid tax bills are in the red by an average $20,317 per person.

The three most common reasons for tax debt in the Gem State are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (16.67%).
  2. Divorce (14.17%).
  3. Taxes were greater than expected (13.33%).

7. Connecticut

andysartworks / Shutterstock
Fishing docks in Mystic, Connecticut.

In Connecticut, taxpayers who are delinquent are behind to the tune of $20,399, on average.

The top three reasons residents of the Nutmeg State fall into tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.04%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (12.98%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (12.63%).

6. Alaska

freevideophotoagency / Shutterstock
Sled dog racing in Alaska.

In Alaska, the average debt among people who owe tax money is $20,433.

The three biggest reasons for tax debt in the Last Frontier are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (14.93%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (14.18%).
  3. Divorce (11.19%).

Note that Alaska is another state that doesn't have a state income tax.

5. Maine

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The skyline in Portland, Maine.

In Maine, delinquent taxpayers owe an average $20,471 per person.

The Pine Tree State's three most common reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (18.95%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (13.68%).
  3. Taxes were never filed (13.68%).

4. South Dakota

Ingo70 / Shutterstock
A sign welcomes visitors to South Dakota.

In South Dakota, people with unpaid tax bills are in the hole by an average $21,071 per person.

Among residents of the Mount Rushmore State, the top three reasons for tax debt are:

  1. Penalties built up from back taxes (21.82%).
  2. Taxes were never filed (18.18%).
  3. Divorce (10.91%)

Note that South Dakota is another state that doesn't have its own income tax.

3. Wyoming

Theron Stripling III / Shutterstock
Bison grazing at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

In Wyoming, delinquent taxpayers owe an hefty $21,095, on average.

The three biggest reasons for tax debt in this scenic state are:

  1. Divorce (19.05%).
  2. Taxes were greater than expected (19.05%).
  3. (tie) Taxes were never filed (9.52%).
  4. (tie) Penalties built up from back taxes (9.52%).

Note that Wyoming is yet another state that doesn't have its own income tax.

2. North Dakota

Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock
Fargo, North Dakota.

In North Dakota, the average tax debt per person is $23,671.

North Dakotans' top reasons for winding up with unpaid tax bills are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (23.53%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (13.73%).
  3. Divorce (11.76%).

1. Vermont

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Autumn in Vermont

Using Solvable's data, LendEDU found that the state with the highest average tax debt is Vermont. Here, people who have fallen behind on their taxes owe $28,862, on average.

The three most common reasons for tax debt in the Green Mountain State are:

  1. Taxes were greater than expected (18.52%).
  2. Penalties built up from back taxes (18.52%).
  3. Business tax issues (14.81%).

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