Americans in These States Are Getting the Most Value for Their Tax Money

What do we deserve in return for paying taxes? Your return on investment varies according to where you live. Some states have bigger tax burdens; others get more federal funding.

WalletHub compared state and local taxes to the quality of services residents receive. The results showcase the best (and worst) places for taxpayers to live. The little New England state with the best ROI will shock you (page 10).

10. Wyoming

Entering Wyoming via Bear Tooth Pass
“Welcome to Wyoming” at 10,947 feet | Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 26 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 3) and Safety (No. 10)

About 90% of U.S. adults don’t think the government uses tax revenue wisely, reports WalletHub’s Taxpayer Survey. However, some states, like Wyoming, get the better end of the deal. Wyomingites pay middle-of-the-road taxes, but receive the 10th best government services of all 50 states, with notably good ROI concerning infrastructure and pollution.

Next: Pay your taxes, get great healthcare.

9. Nebraska

Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon infected with the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone, arrives at the Nebraska Medical Center in 2014.
Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha | Eric Francis/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 22 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Hospital Systems (tied for No. 1), Economy (No. 5), and Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 11)

The Cornhusker State pays middle-of-the-road taxes but receives great healthcare through its hospital systems. Nebraskans also enjoy a strong economy and well-managed infrastructure. Not a bad deal.

Next: Things are peachy in this well-built state.

8. Georgia

Atlanta Georgia Bridge
A bridge outside of Atlanta, Georgia | Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 11 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Best Roads & Bridges (No. 1) and Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 7)
  • Ranks poorly: Health (No. 41)

Although Georgians suffer in the healthcare category — the 10th worst state — they drive on the best roads and bridges in America thanks to the Peach State’s tax revenue. Georgia also manages its infrastructure and pollution well, as the seventh best state.

Next: Everything’s bigger in this state, including its economy.

7. Texas

Texas's Dell Inc. headquarters
Dell headquarters in Austin, Texas | Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 5 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Economy (No. 18)
  • Ranks poorly: Best Roads & Bridges (No. 46)

The Lone Star State pays the fifth most in taxes, but it has the fifth worst roads and bridges. What saves Texans from losing big-time: its economy, which ranks 18th best in the U.S.

Next: The ROI is strong in this “showy” state.

6. Missouri

Missouri limestone
Limestone outside of Kansas City | Jim Barcus/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 6 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Economy (No. 19) and Education (No. 25)

The Show-Me State has a lot to show for its tax revenue. As the sixth best state for ROI, it has a strong economy and good education system.

Next: A Rocky Mountain high for these taxpayers

5. Colorado

Durango, Colorado's Animas River
Animas River near Durango, Colorado | Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 14 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Economy (No. 3), Health (No. 4), and Best Water Quality (No. 5)

Not only does Colorado have beautiful views — those don’t count with this research — but it also enjoys clean water, a strong economy, and great healthcare system. The Centennial State pays a good amount of taxes, but it’s used wisely.

Next: Taxes give residents a safety net of sorts.

4. Virginia

Virginia's MARS headquarters
MARS headquarters in Virginia | Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 17 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Lowest Violent-Crime Rate (No. 4), Safety (No. 6), Economy (No. 7), and Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 8)

With the fourth lowest violent-crime rate, Virginia gets a boost in the safety category. Residents enjoy a strong economy and infrastructure, while paying the 17th most taxes (per capita) of all 50 states.

Next: A surprising, sunny state nearly tops the list.

3. Florida

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida
A year after the shooting in Parkland, Florida | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 3 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Education (No. 9)
  • Ranks poorly: Economy (No. 38)

Florida pays the third most taxes per capita. Fortunately, the ROI is strong, with a great education system. The Sunshine State does struggle to maintain a good economy; it ranks as the 12th worst state in that category.

Next: Just stay off the roads in this state.

2. South Dakota

Badlands National Park South Dakota
A road outside of Badlands National Park in South Dakota | DEA/Gianni Oliva/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 10 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 4)
  • Ranks poorly: Worst Roads & Bridges (No. 4) and Education (No. 40)

You’ll drive some rough roads to get to Mount Rushmore — South Dakota has the fourth worst roads and bridges — but the state enjoys strong infrastructure and pollution prevention.

Next: A little New England state with the best ROI

1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire State House
The New Hampshire State House on a snowy day | Scott Eisen/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 2 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Lowest % of Resident in Poverty (No. 1), Health (No. 3), Lowest Violent Crime Rate (No. 3), Safety (No. 4), and Best School Systems (No. 4)

The Granite State kills its competition by providing strong school systems and an extremely safe place to live. New Hampshire also has the lowest percentage of residents in poverty and the third best healthcare. It pays a lot of taxes, but the ROI more than makes up for it.

Next: Read on to discover the five worst states for your ROI, starting with a Southern state.

5. Louisiana

Louisiana's Cancer Alley
Factories line the roads of “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana. | Giles Clarke/Getty Images.
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 13 out of 50 states
  • Ranks poorly: Worst Water Quality (tied for No. 1), Worst School System (No. 2), Highest Violent-Crime Rate (No. 2), Highest % of Residents in Poverty (No. 3), Safety (No. 48), and Economy (No. 48)

The Pelican State pays a lot of taxes but receives the worst government services in America. Louisiana has terrible water and poor schools. It’s the third least safe state and many residents live in poverty. Sorry, Louisiana.

Next: A stingy state with its taxes

4. Arkansas

A river and bridge in Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas | Paul Harris/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 38 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 21)
  • Ranks poorly: Safety (No. 46), Health (No. 44), and Highest % of Residents in Poverty (No. 5)

The Natural State doesn’t pay a ton in taxes — and it shows. Arkansas’ infrastructure is so-so, and it struggles with maintaining safety and keeping residents out of poverty.

Next: A huge state with little ROI

3. California

San Francisco Bay Area Air Pollution
Poor air quality in San Francisco | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 45 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Education (No. 12)
  • Ranks poorly: Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 48)

California is known for terrible traffic and city systems, so it’s no wonder the Golden State ranks so bad concerning infrastructure and pollution. Its saving grace: California ranks 12th best in education.

Next: Your taxes go south in the Southwest.

2. New Mexico

Santa Fe New Mexico police
Santa Fe, New Mexico police officers | Robert Alexander/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 24 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 14)
  • Ranks poorly: Safety (No. 50), Economy (No. 50), Worst School Systems (No. 1), Highest Violent-Crime Rate (tied for No. 1), and Highest % of Residents in Poverty (No. 2)

New Mexico pays middle-of-the-road taxes but gets some of the worst government services in America (48th out of 50). The Land of Enchantment isn’t so enchanting when you see its schools, crime, and economy. New Mexicans’ ROI does rank 14th best for infrastructure and pollution.

Next: The worst state for taxpayers’ ROI

1. Hawaii

Waikiki Beach in Honolulu
A homeless man sleeps by Waikiki Beach in Honolulu | Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
  • Total taxes paid per capita: No. 50 out of 50 states
  • Ranks highly: Lowest % of Residents in Poverty (No. 5) and Health (No. 9)
  • Ranks poorly: Education (No. 37) and Infrastructure & Pollution (No. 37)

Say “aloha” to the people who pay the most taxes per capita, but receives so-so government services. The Aloha State struggles with its economy, infrastructure, and pollution. Hawaii does enjoy good healthcare (ninth best), so it’s got something going for it.