I’d like to expand on a topic that I mentioned briefly in a SurvivalBlog post on August 25, 2005: “The State Line Game.” Many folks have discovered how to play the state line jumping game: Living near a state line to take advantage of a lower tax or other advantage in one or more adjoining states. For example, you can live in the Idaho panhandle (very low property tax, car registration, and car insurance), work in eastern Washington (no income tax), make your day-to-day purchases in Idaho (5% sales tax) and your major purchases (trucks, wood stoves, generators, gun vaults, appliances, et cetera) in Montana or Oregon–both of which have no sales tax. Many SurvivalBlog readers have found themselves at the stage of life where they are considering strategic relocation. If you look at the tax burdens in various states (See: http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/taxesbystate2005/index.html), then you can take the opportunity afforded by relocation to “vote with your feet.”
Let’s continue this line of reasoning a bit further. In many instances, state lines are defined by rivers or the summits of mountain ranges, but in others, the line is more or less arbitrarily set on level ground. The latter opens up a fascinating possibility: Owning contiguous parcels on both sides of a state line. Imagine living in a small house in a state with no (or low) personal income tax but high property taxes and expensive car registration. You could also own an adjoining much larger parcel land and other assets (garage, vehicles, barn, shop, livestock, a second home) on the other side of the state line, literally a stone’s throw away. Or how about a mobile home that you could move slightly, if and when regulations becomes too onerous at the opposing end of your property.
Now on to something that at first blush might seem absurd, so I’ll label this as an intellectual exercise: It might be possible to build a house that physically straddles a state line. That is sure to get the tax assessors scratching their heads! Consider the possibilities of a house with with a large main “wing” in a low property tax state, and another smaller wing–perhaps connected by a covered walkway or greenhouse–in a state where you can take advantage of the differing income taxes, sales taxes, or other regulations. (The latter could include gun laws, home schooling laws, cost of car registration/insurance, cost of hunting tags, et cetera.) If you operate a home based business, the presence or absence of a sales tax could make a big difference. Your state of “residence” would be based on the wing where your bedroom and home office is located. You might want your children to legally be residents of the adjoining state, because of home schooling law disparities or to avoid the high cost of “out of state” college tuition. Another disparity is in hunting regulations and the length of hunting seasons: If deer season ends earlier on one end of your property than the other, then you could simply reposition your livestock salt blocks. Here is an even more absurd abstraction: A state line that bisects your dining room table: “Please pass–I mean–Interstate Commerce the mashed potatoes.” The practicalities of getting permits to build a bi-state house might be insurmountable, but it remains an captivating prospect. Think though the many of possibilities–even of just living near a state line,. Consider the following factors:
States that have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Two others, New Hampshire and Tennessee, tax only dividend and interest income. (For detail on state income tax rates, see: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html .)
States with no state level general sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. For details, see: http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html
States with very low county and local property (real estate) taxes: These vary widely, depending on the city and county. For details, see: http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html
States with differing firearms laws. See the book Boston’s Gun Bible for details. If you don’t already own a copy of this “must read” book, then contact. Fred’s M14 Stocks. As of this writing, Fred is currently offering a great three book package deal: one copy of my novel Patriots +one copy of Matthew Bracken‘s novel Enemies Foreign and Domestic + one copy of Boston’s Gun Bible, all for $50. OBTW, please mention SurvivalBlog, regardless of where you buy your books.
As I previously posted, one possibility is to live and work in southern Washington (no income tax and fairly low property taxes), but shop in Oregon, where there is a high property tax but no sales tax. Unfortunately the two states are divided by the Columbia River. Perhaps you could buy land east of the point where the river turns north and the border reverts to an arbitrary line. But there aren’t many opportunities to take advantage of the sales tax difference at that end of the state! Another possibility is to buy a ranch straddling the Montana/Wyoming state line, since Montana has no sales tax and Wyoming has no income tax. And both have great gun laws. (Not the best of climates there, however!)
See: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html for detailed information on the tax rates in various states.
A reminder that the foregoing discussions skirt around a more core issue: the scale of government in each state. Some states have big, pretentious, intrusive governments that love to get involved in every aspect of your life. My advice is to avoid living in any of these Nanny States. As time goes on, they are only going to get worse.
The bottom line: If you live in a state with severe taxes or gun laws, then vote with your feet! I’d appreciate your comments on the foregoing. Perhaps you have considered a novel way to take advantage of tax disparities. Just drop me an e-mail. OBTW, I plan to also post this to The Claire Files. This should inspire all of the Libertarians there into a spirited string of discussion. They seem to particularly enjoy this sort of food for thought and grounds for further research. (FFTAGFFR.)
Letter from Dr. November Re: Aviation Fuel as an Alternative Fuel (SAs: Alternate Fuels, Aviation Fuels, 100 Octane Gasoline)
On the avgas issue, you might remind your readers that avgas has a LOT of lead in it (more than high-test leaded car gas ever did). 100 octane Low-lead avgas still has twice as much lead as leaded car gas did. If you use leaded gas in a car with a catalytic converter (like most cars these days) you will ruin the converter in less time than it takes you to empty the gas tank. One of two alternatives will happen, the converter will become completely plugged and your car won’t run at all because of the back pressure, or you’ll get terrible performance. And, if you have mandatory smog inspections in your state, look at a repair bill starting at around $750 to replace the converter. (They aren’t cheap, even used). Also, the waste fuel drums at airports (at least the ones I go to) also have waste oil in them, and usually water. Be careful! – Dr. November