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Better than Texas

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Arkansas's tax system is a little fairer to low-income people than Texas's, but then Texas's, under Gov. Rick Perry, is god-awfully unfair. Perry, a presidential candidate, complained last week about poor people not paying enough in taxes. He said he was "dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don't even pay any income tax." The reason they don't pay any federal income tax is because they're too poor to qualify. But they pay other federal taxes, and they pay state and local taxes too.

Both Texas and Arkansas, and most other states, have regressive tax systems, in that taxes take a larger share of income from poor families than rich families According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Texas has the fifth highest taxes for low-income families. The bottom 20 percent of Texas taxpayers pay 12.2 percent of their income in state taxes, while the richest 1 percent pay only 3 percent of their income in state taxes.

Arkansas demands almost as much of poor people - the poorest 20 percent here pay 12.1 percent of their income in taxes - but the Arkansas system is more progressive than Texas's in that it requires more of rich people than Texas does. In Arkansas, the richest 1 percent pay 5.9 percent of their income in state taxes, roughly twice as much as the Texas super-rich.

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