We checked in at the blog called Off the Map, published by Fortius One. The company is all about where the map, and mapping, meets the web. Today it posted as its “dataset of the Day” an interesting map of the retail sales tax around the U.S. Fascinating.
Got us thinking. In the last decade, taxes have crept up in lots of areas, and because everyone was flush, few paid attention. Service fees, business district and special taxes are added to property tax bills. Tourist development taxes and room taxes are added to hotel bills to pay for expensive sports stadiums. These taxes seem to have no end, and there is no weapon against them, save the awareness that an area has branded itself a tax free haven. That’s why we found the map so enticing; it showed that there were a few islands of sales tax freedom left. (Lighter the color, the lower the taxes.)
Florida No Income Tax
We see this in Florida, which rightly celebrates that it has no income tax. Or Houston, which (used to at least) celebrate itself that it had almost no zoning. We think its a good idea to try some of these tricks. As the recession drags on, municipalities will want to try to eliminate some sorts of taxes that help them with their core businesses.
Read our post How To Brand Your Region for Tourism; eliminating a tax might be just the ticket to spur some economic development.
In the 1990s, when Portsmouth, Virginia needed to build up its marina industry, it set up a cheap flat fee for boat registration and personal property tax, which helped it against neighboring cities that taxed boats highly. While they lowered the tax on the boats, they gained in revenue from marina operations. Win Win.
Below, a list of low taxes that help “brand” individual countries, states and municipalities:
- Liberia = Low Tax Ship Registry
- Dubai = Low Tax Shopping, Wives can talk to husbands in public!
- Portsmouth, Virginia = Cheap boat registry
- New Hampshire = No Sales Tax
- Virginia = Low Tobacco Tax
- Hong Kong = Low Tax Everything
- Isle of Man, Jersey = Low Tax Banking
- Florida = No Income Tax
- Nevada = Legal Prostitutes
- Amsterdam = Legalized Sinful Things
- The South = Right to Work
- Houston = Liberal Zoning Laws
- Bahamas, Virgin Islands = Duty Free Shopping
- Costa Rica = Low Tax Everything
- Northern New Jersey = Lower Room Taxes than NYC
If you are trying to re-brand your region, try eliminating a tax or allowing someone to do something, and telling the world about it. Very often, the business that you gain will easily offset the lost revenue. And there is often free publicity.