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Here’s the Tax Burden on the Bottom 20% in Every State

Cameron Huddleston
·12 min read
Sorin Colac / Shutterstock.com
Sorin Colac / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. has a progressive income tax system. That doesn’t refer to any sort of political influence on the system. Instead, it means that tax rates are lower for people who earn less and rise as income rises — so, ideally, those who make more carry more of the tax burden.

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Currently, the federal income tax rates range from 10% to 37%. You fall into the lowest tax bracket for the 2021 filing year if you’re single and your income is $9,950 or less, or $19,900 or less if you’re married filing jointly. However, taxpayers in the lowest bracket typically don’t owe federal tax because their income is lower than the standard deduction.

But that doesn’t mean that low-income households escape paying taxes altogether. Their income might be low but not low enough to avoid federal income taxes. Plus, state and local taxes can take a bite out of limited incomes.

Here’s the tax burden on the bottom 20% in every state.

Last updated: Feb. 19, 2021

Mobile, Alabama, USA - February 24, 2014: Almost empty Dauphin street in historic district is ready for Mardi Gras celebrations in the evening.
Mobile, Alabama, USA - February 24, 2014: Almost empty Dauphin street in historic district is ready for Mardi Gras celebrations in the evening.

1. Alabama

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $10,538

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,168

    • Tax burden: 11.08%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $908

    • Tax burden: 8.61%

Read More: How Much Your State Makes From Taxes

Ketchikan, Alaska.
Ketchikan, Alaska.

2. Alaska

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $18,977

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,095

    • Tax burden: 11.04%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $394

    • Tax burden: 2.09%

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Cityscape skyline view of office buildings and apartment condominiums in downtown Phoenix Arizona USA.
Cityscape skyline view of office buildings and apartment condominiums in downtown Phoenix Arizona USA.

3. Arizona

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,587

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,174

    • Tax burden: 8.64%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,039

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

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Fayetteville Arkansas
Fayetteville Arkansas

4. Arkansas

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $11,049

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,135

    • Tax burden: 10.28%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,031

    • Tax burden: 9.33%

Don’t Forget: The 6 Most Important Tax Deductions You Need to Claim

La Quinta Downtown California Coachella Valley.
La Quinta Downtown California Coachella Valley.

5. California

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $15,827

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,677

    • Tax burden: 10.59%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,279

    • Tax burden: 8.08%

Find Out: How Do Your Stimulus Payments Affect Your Taxes?

Larimer street is a tourism highlight and worth a visit during the night time.
Larimer street is a tourism highlight and worth a visit during the night time.

6. Colorado

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $17,187

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,575

    • Tax burden: 14.98%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,111

    • Tax burden: 12.28%

Learn More: Never Got Your Stimulus Check? Claim It on Your Taxes

Bridgeport is a historic seaport city in the U.
Bridgeport is a historic seaport city in the U.

7. Connecticut

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $16,569

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,298

    • Tax burden: 13.87%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,765

    • Tax burden: 10.65%

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Wilmington Delaware skyline
Wilmington Delaware skyline

8. Delaware

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $15,768

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,910

    • Tax burden: 12.11%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,438

    • Tax burden: 9.2%

Read More: Here’s How Much Teachers Make in Every State

Downtown Street in historic Ocala, Florida.
Downtown Street in historic Ocala, Florida.

9. Florida

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,086

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,055

    • Tax burden: 8.06%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,001

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Making Bank: Just How Rich Are President Joe Biden and These Other Big Names?

Condos in Atlanta suburbs just next to Highway GA 400.
Condos in Atlanta suburbs just next to Highway GA 400.

10. Georgia

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $12,798

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,303

    • Tax burden: 10.18%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,161

    • Tax burden: 9.07%

Scenic Honolulu Oahu Hawaii Suburban Neighborhood.
Scenic Honolulu Oahu Hawaii Suburban Neighborhood.

11. Hawaii

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $17,980

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,672

    • Tax burden: 14.93%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,804

    • Tax burden: 10.04

View of Downtown Boise.
View of Downtown Boise.

12. Idaho

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,921

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,219

    • Tax burden: 8.75%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,065

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Chicago typical silver colored commuter train moving on elevated tracks to railroad station in between urban city buildings of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Chicago typical silver colored commuter train moving on elevated tracks to railroad station in between urban city buildings of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

13. Illinois

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,052

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,921

    • Tax burden: 13.67%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,771

    • Tax burden: 12.60%

Terre Haute historic downtown.
Terre Haute historic downtown.

14. Indiana

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,570

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,578

    • Tax burden: 11.63%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,476

    • Tax burden: 10.88%

DES MOINES, IOWA - JULY 11, 2018: Des Moines, Iowa Skyline from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
DES MOINES, IOWA - JULY 11, 2018: Des Moines, Iowa Skyline from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

15. Iowa

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,836

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,537

    • Tax burden: 10.36%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,145

    • Tax burden: 7.72%

Wichita, Kansas, USA - April 27, 2018: Evening view of the Lewis Street Bridge bracketing downtown Wichita, crossing the Arkansas River.
Wichita, Kansas, USA - April 27, 2018: Evening view of the Lewis Street Bridge bracketing downtown Wichita, crossing the Arkansas River.

16. Kansas

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,449

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,650

    • Tax burden: 11.42%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,320

    • Tax burden: 9.14%

River Town USA - Aerial view of autumn in a small Kentucky river town.
River Town USA - Aerial view of autumn in a small Kentucky river town.

17. Kentucky

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $10,912

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,248

    • Tax burden: 11.44%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,116

    • Tax burden: 10.22%

Lafayette is a small City in the State of Louisiana - Image.
Lafayette is a small City in the State of Louisiana - Image.

18. Louisiana

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $9,757

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $941

    • Tax burden: 9.65%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $941

    • Tax burden: 9.65%

Lewiston is a city in Androscoggin County in Maine, and the second-largest city in the state.
Lewiston is a city in Androscoggin County in Maine, and the second-largest city in the state.

19. Maine

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,702

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,239

    • Tax burden: 9.04%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,048

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Guide: How To Fill Out a W-4

Annapolis Maryland capitol
Annapolis Maryland capitol

20. Maryland

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $18,854

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,806

    • Tax burden: 14.88%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,067

Find Out: The Wildest Things Your Taxes Are Paying For

South Boston also known as southie is a densely populated neighborhood of Boston known for narrow three deckers, rowhouses and strong Irish Catholic traditions.
South Boston also known as southie is a densely populated neighborhood of Boston known for narrow three deckers, rowhouses and strong Irish Catholic traditions.

21. Massachusetts

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $15,520

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,260

    • Tax burden: 14.56%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,963

    • Tax burden: 12.65%

A view of downtown Lansing Michigan, USA.
A view of downtown Lansing Michigan, USA.

22. Michigan

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,156

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,626

    • Tax burden: 12.36%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,565

    • Tax burden: 11.9%

Check Out: 25 Most Outlandish Taxes Since the Boston Tea Party

11216, Horizontal, Minneapolis, Minnesota, States, america
11216, Horizontal, Minneapolis, Minnesota, States, america

23. Minnesota

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $17,300

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,060

    • Tax burden: 11.92%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,323

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Biloxi, Mississippi, USA Lighthouse at dusk.
Biloxi, Mississippi, USA Lighthouse at dusk.

24. Mississippi

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $9,367

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $920

    • Tax burden: 9.81%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $830

    • Tax burden: 8.86%

Sept.
Sept.

25. Missouri

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,281

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,101

    • Tax burden: 8.29%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,016

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Aerial View of Main Street in downtown Bozeman Montana.
Aerial View of Main Street in downtown Bozeman Montana.

26. Montana

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,337

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,277

    • Tax burden: 9.58%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,067

    • Tax burden: 8%

Nebraska, STATES
Nebraska, STATES

27. Nebraska

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $15,168

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,674

    • Tax burden: 11.04%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,189

    • Tax burden: 7.84%

Henderson, Nevada, USA - April 6, 2019:  Evening view of the Emerald Island Casino along Market Street in the downtown district.
Henderson, Nevada, USA - April 6, 2019: Evening view of the Emerald Island Casino along Market Street in the downtown district.

28. Nevada

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,239

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,258

    • Tax burden: 8.84%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,089

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

New Hampshire
New Hampshire

29. New Hampshire

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $18,862

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $3,017

    • Tax burden: 16%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,386

    • Tax burden: 12.65%

Bayonne New Jersey Newark homes neighborhood
Bayonne New Jersey Newark homes neighborhood

30. New Jersey

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $16,981

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,980

    • Tax burden: 11.66%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,537

    • Tax burden: 9.05%

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA downtown cityscape and street at twilight.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA downtown cityscape and street at twilight.

31. New Mexico

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $10,558

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $808

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $808

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

High angle view of Lower Manhattan cityscape - Chinatown, New York, USA.
High angle view of Lower Manhattan cityscape - Chinatown, New York, USA.

32. New York

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,020

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,244

    • Tax burden: 9.55%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $996

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA uptown skyline and park.
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA uptown skyline and park.

33. North Carolina

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $12,761

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,103

    • Tax burden: 8.65%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $976

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the State of North Dakota and is the county seat of Grand Forks County.
Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the State of North Dakota and is the county seat of Grand Forks County.

34. North Dakota

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,804

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,384

    • Tax burden: 9.35%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,133

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

The Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati in the summer
The Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati in the summer

35. Ohio

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $12,861

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,015

    • Tax burden: 7.89%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $984

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Find Out: How To Avoid Paying Taxes Legally — and the 11 Craziest Ways People Have Done It

Color images of the boxyard mall in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma taken 06/19/2018.
Color images of the boxyard mall in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma taken 06/19/2018.

36. Oklahoma

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $12,268

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,059

    • Tax burden: 8.63%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $939

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

View of the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon
View of the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon

37. Oregon

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,622

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,185

    • Tax burden: 14.94%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,676

    • Tax burden: 11.46%

View from north Pittsburgh.
View from north Pittsburgh.

38. Pennsylvania

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,887

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,622

    • Tax burden: 11.68%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,488

    • Tax burden: 10.72%

Westerly Rhode Island
Westerly Rhode Island

39. Rhode Island

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $13,273

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,251

    • Tax burden: 9.53%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,015

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Georgian row houses in Charleston, South Carolina
Georgian row houses in Charleston, South Carolina

40. South Carolina

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $11,736

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $898

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $898

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Rapid City is the second most populous city in South Dakota and the county seat of Pennington County.
Rapid City is the second most populous city in South Dakota and the county seat of Pennington County.

41. South Dakota

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,453

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,312

    • Tax burden: 9.02%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,113

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

People enjoy a pleasant evening in the Broadway pub district, downtown Nashville, Tennessee, USA at twilight.
People enjoy a pleasant evening in the Broadway pub district, downtown Nashville, Tennessee, USA at twilight.

42. Tennessee

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $12,221

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $935

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $935

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

El Paso is a city in and the seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States.
El Paso is a city in and the seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States.

43. Texas

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,034

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,222

    • Tax burden: 8.71%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,074

    • Tax burden: 8.65%

See: 5 Common Reasons You Might Owe Taxes This Year

2/20/17 Park City, Utah, USA.
2/20/17 Park City, Utah, USA.

44. Utah

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $19,112

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $3,027

    • Tax burden: 15.84%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,334

    • Tax burden: 12.21%

The village of South Peacham nestled in the hill side of Vermont.
The village of South Peacham nestled in the hill side of Vermont.

45. Vermont

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $14,666

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,619

    • Tax burden: 11.04%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,201

    • Tax burden: 8.19%

High angle view of Roanoke Virginia with famous church in the background -- St Andrews Catholic Church.
High angle view of Roanoke Virginia with famous church in the background -- St Andrews Catholic Church.

46. Virginia

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $16,508

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $2,129

    • Tax burden: 12.9%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,508

    • Tax burden: 9.14%

Row of colorful townhouses and Olympic Mountain range from Seattle WA.
Row of colorful townhouses and Olympic Mountain range from Seattle WA.

47. Washington

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $17,314

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,801

    • Tax burden: 10.4%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,325

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Martinsburg West Virginia in Berkeley County
Martinsburg West Virginia in Berkeley County

48. West Virginia

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $10,504

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,124

    • Tax burden: 10.7%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,124

    • Tax burden: 10.7%

Read: What Can I Write Off on My Taxes?

MADISON, WISCONSIN, USA - JULY 29, 2017.
MADISON, WISCONSIN, USA - JULY 29, 2017.

49. Wisconsin

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $15,311

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,617

    • Tax burden: 10.56%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,171

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

Panoramic aerial view of Jackson Hole homes and beautiful mountains on a summer morning, Wyoming.
Panoramic aerial view of Jackson Hole homes and beautiful mountains on a summer morning, Wyoming.

50. Wyoming

  • Average income of the bottom 20%: $15,572

  • Single filers:

    • Total income taxes paid: $1,493

    • Tax burden: 9.59%

  • Married couples filing jointly:

    • Total income and sales taxes paid: $1,191

    • Tax burden: 7.65%

More From GOBankingRates

Cameron Huddleston contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: In order to find the tax burden on the poorest 20% in every state, GOBankingRates first found each state’s average household income for the lowest 20% of earners as sourced from the 2019 American Community Survey 5-year estimates conducted by the United States Census Bureau. Once this was found, GOBankingRates sourced the federal and state tax brackets from the Tax Foundation’s 2021 data. GOBankingRates used an in-house income tax calculator to find the (1) total income taxes paid by the poorest 20% of each state and (2) the effective tax rate (tax burden) on each state’s poorest 20%. GOBankingRates also found the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax with its rate reported from Bloomberg. These calculations were done for a person filing their taxes as a single person and for a married couple filing jointly, using the standard deduction for each. All data was collected on and up to date as of January, 12 2021.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Here’s the Tax Burden on the Bottom 20% in Every State