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Standard must remain if income tax changes come

Ohio taxpayers have a right to assume the money they give to the state will be used in a way that benefits all of us. As it turns out, that assumption is mostly correct, according to a report by WalletHub, “States with the Best and Worst Taxpayer ROI (2024).”

Ohio is fifth in the nation for taxpayer return on investment. Only Missouri, South Dakota, Florida and New Hampshire are doing better for their citizens. Ohio is eighth for total taxes paid per capita, though we are 25th for overall government services.

When looking more closely at the state government services, WalletHub determined Ohio is 35th in education, 33rd in health, 21st in safety, 10th in economy and 17th in infrastructure and pollution.

“There can be a tradeoff between how much tax you pay and what you receive in return from the government,” said WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe. “Several of the states with the best taxpayer ROI don’t charge any income tax, and residents pay less at tax time while receiving good-quality (though not necessarily the best) government services. At the same time, while people pay more in states that do charge income tax, they may benefit from better infrastructure, education, safety or public health as a result.”

That’s a point worth considering in Ohio, as lawmakers have begun toying with the idea of eliminating the state income tax.

Would we be able to do as much for (or, even better for) our residents if we made the switch? Being in the bottom half of states when it comes to education and health makes it clear some priorities would have to be rearranged if there was a change to state revenue. Certainly, we cannot afford to fall any lower in those categories.

It is commendable that Ohio government is generally serving residents’ needs quite well, relative to the state and local taxes collected. Any changes must maintain a commitment to that standard while moving toward improvement in the areas where we must do a better job. Without that balance, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors.

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