Where you retire can have a great deal to do with how comfortable you are in retirement, for lots of reasons.
One factor that always looms large in any would-be retiree’s mind is money, and a big part of the money picture in retirees’ budgets are taxes.
Kiplinger ran the numbers on all 50 states and the District of Columbia, to see which ones were friendliest—or unfriendliest—to retirees in their tax structure.
Tax breaks, low rates, or even nonexistent taxes in certain categories all played a part in determining just how advantageous—or detrimental—a given state is to a retiree’s budget. And there’s a substantial range to choose from.
(Related: 10 Best States for Retirement: 2015)
Of course, with variation comes the need to decide whether a particular state’s advantages or disadvantages work to your own.
A state with low gas tax, for instance, may not present a particular benefit to someone who doesn’t drive, while a retiree with a family and a good-sized estate might be looking for a place to live where there are low or no estate and inheritance taxes.
Below we’ve listed the 10 most tax-friendly states Kiplinger came up with, along with what makes them such great opportunities.
Okay, so maybe you hadn’t envisioned moving to the northernmost part of the country to spend your retirement years.
But before you move on to the next candidate, you might like to know that Alaska has no state income tax, no state sales tax, and no estate or inheritance tax. Pretty nice, huh?
Not only that, if you stick it out past a year, you’ll get an annual dividend check from the state’s oil profits—which will make your retirement funds go even farther.
In addition, that aforementioned gas tax is the lowest in the country—something that will come in handy if you like to get out on that ATV to see the wilderness.
Property taxes are on the high side, but homeowners 65 and older, or surviving spouses 60 and over, get an exemption from municipal taxes on the first $150,000 of their property’s assessed valuation.
Here’s something to make a retiree’s heart sing, if he’s fond of brew: Wyoming has the lowest beer tax in the U.S.
Of course, that’s not its only advantage, or it wouldn’t be No. 2.
No state income tax, a state sales tax of 4 percent, no estate or inheritance tax and low property taxes all add up to an easy touch on the bankbook.
Seniors whose income meets state guidelines can also get a refund of up to $800 (singles) or $900 (married) on property, utility and sales/use taxes.
No income tax, coupled with affordable property taxes, make this a place to gamble on during retirement.
The state sales tax is no bargain at 6.85 percent, but food and drugs are exempt. However, municipalities may tack on as much as another 1.3 percent.
Then there’s the “government services tax” on your car—so maybe stick with an aging vehicle, since the tax is based on its age and value.
Social Security is exempt from income tax here, as are IRA/401(k) withdrawals, public and private pensions, and other qualified retirement income.
In addition, there’s no estate or inheritance tax here.
You’ll pay a hefty 7 percent sales tax, even on food, but not for prescription drugs, the newspaper, utilities, and motor fuel.