It likely comes as little surprise the majority of Americans believe government does not spend tax dollars wisely, but, according to a new report, some states offer better returns on taxpayers’ investments than others.
Georgia is one of those states, ranking as the eighth-best state in the nation in taxpayer return on investment, according to a WalletHub study on the Best & Worst Taxpayer Return on Investment in 2021.
“Tax Day can be a painful reminder of much we have to invest in federal, state and local governments, though many of us are unaware of exactly what they give us in return,” John Kiernan, WalletHub managing editor, wrote in the report. “As a result, this creates a disconnect in the minds of taxpayers between the amount of money we should fork over on Tax Day (May 17 this year) – and how much we deserve in return.”
The personal finance website used 30 metrics to compare the quality and efficiency of state government services across the areas of education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure and pollution.
Overall, according to the group’s annual taxpayer survey, 74% of Americans feel government hasn’t handled tax dollars well during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While Georgia ranked eighth overall and ninth in total taxes paid per capita, it fell toward the back of the pack when examining specific government services. Georgia ranked 34th in services, 27th in safety, 29th in infrastructure and pollution, 50th in health, 28th in education but sixth in economy.
“Whether or not taxpayer dollars are viewed as ‘wasted’ depends on the person. While one taxpayer may view a new community pool as a great asset for families, another may view it as a waste,” said Jason Jolley, professor of rural economic development at Ohio University. “Similar disagreements exist over funding of local arts, bike lanes, parks, etc. Ultimately, local governments need to engage their citizenry and make investments taxpayers will support and use. Vibrant communities with great schools and amenities are needed to attract and retain workers and their families.”
Generally, taxpayers in Republican leaning states ranked higher than Democrat leaning states. New Hampshire, according to the report, gave taxpayers the best return on their money, followed by Florida, South Dakota and Virginia.