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5 Best Low Tax Retirement States

by Susan Quilty on 12 Comments

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    Florida is one of the most popular low tax states among baby boomers and retirees.

Florida is one of the most popular low tax states among Baby Boomers and retirees.

When it comes to saving money, most retirees understand the benefits of moving to a low tax retirement location. However, some of the most tax-friendly retirement states may not be the best fit when you consider other factors such as climate, culture and proximity to family and friends.

Tax-friendly states like Alaska and New Hampshire will certainly appeal to select retirees, but the majority of homebuyers may be more interested in low tax retirement locations which balance cultural appeal with affordability and a mild climate. Here are five of our favorite low tax retirement states:

1. Nevada

With no state income tax, Nevada catches the attention of many relocating retirees. Of course this doesn’t mean that there are no taxes. Both real estate and personal property are subject to state and local taxes, based on 35 percent of the assessed fair market value. However, homeowners who are aged 62 or better may be eligible for a refund of up to 90 percent of these taxes, if they make less than $28,677 each year. Nevada has no inheritance tax, and the sales tax excludes food and prescription drugs.

2. Georgia

Georgia is one tax-friendly state which is about to become even more desirable. Currently, the state does not tax Social Security benefits, and it exempts up to $35,000 of retirement income for those over the age of 62. In 2012, Georgia will begin to phase out the taxes on retirement income, reaching an unlimited exemption for retirees over the age of 65 by 2016. Georgia also has no inheritance tax, and reasonable sales tax (food and prescription drugs are exempt).

3. South Carolina

Offering beautiful coastal regions and a sunny climate, South Carolina is rapidly becoming a retirement hot spot. This historic region also features a relatively low tax burden for retirees. South Carolina does not tax Social Security benefits, and it has no inheritance tax. Property taxes are low and the homestead exemption lets homeowners over the age of 65 exclude the first $50,000 of their property’s fair market value. Retirees aged 65 or better can also deduct up to $15,000 per person or $30,000 per couple of their retirement income, and retired military can deduct up to $10,000 of their military retirement benefits.

4. Florida

A longtime favorite of relocating retirees, the Sunshine State offers semi-tropical living and some enticing tax breaks. Florida has no state income tax, and, as of 2007, the state did away with its intangible tax on investment income. When it comes to property taxes, Florida has a homestead exemption of up to $50,000, which applies to homeowners who are permanent residents. Combined state and local sales tax can be high in Florida, but food is exempt, as are both prescription and non-prescription medicines.

5. Tennessee

Tennessee has begun building its reputation as a prime retirement location, partially because it is very tax friendly for retirees. There is no broad-based state income tax in Tennessee, which means there are no taxes on wages, Social Security benefits, pensions or IRA distributions. There are taxes on some investment earnings, but retirees aged 65 or better may be exempt. Tennessee does have a high sales tax, which includes a 5.5 percent tax on food, yet the overall tax burden remains low enough to attract many retirees.

When considering low tax retirement locations, remember that you cannot look at state income tax, property tax or sales tax alone. You must look at an area’s total tax burden to be sure you won’t be surprised by unexpected expenses after you’ve relocated.

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  1. As a state, we (Arizona) is in the middle of the pack. The bigger question is regarding the taxes paid in a given locale. For example, Sun City and Sun City West have very low taxes, both property and sales wise. Early seniors to our communities were savy enough to let politicians know they voted and consequently their concerns were heard.

    I looked at several of the websites related to state rankings and the problem is they take a composite picture for the entire state. No matter where you look, be sure to measure all of the various state, school, sales, county and whatever other ways they have to get your money.

  2. My CPA says it is not true about the first $35,000 of income earned for retirees (over 62) in Georgia not being taxed. Where did this information come from?

  3. For the over 60+ on a budget, where in Az would be best to buy? Have heard Green Valley areas. Need low taxes, real estate taxes that possibly be adjusted as to how much one pays per year. (break for seniors)?
    cont’d education, health facilities, would be nice.
    any comments?

  4. If you haven’t visited the original Sun City sam, you should. We have low taxes, we have marvelous health care facilities within the walls and the most amenities at the lowest yearly rate in the country. We are self-governed, self-suficient and self-sustaining. Homes are selling at prices rivaling back in the late 90’s. Simply put, our value and values are unmatched.

      1. Hey Karla: I was referring to sam’s question above. To be clear, i was talking about Sun City Arizona, the first community built for active retirement.

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