Monday, May 24, 2010

A Tool for Comparing Revenue and Expenditures

The Urban Institute and Brooking Institutions' Tax Policy Center website includes a State & Local Finance Data Query System (SLF-DQS). This query system allows users to create charts and tables using the Census’ State and Local Government Finance series. The series contains detailed revenue, expenditure, and debt variables for all fifty states individually, DC, and the United States from 1977-2007. The data are available by level of government, and users can search by selected states, cities or regions.

SLF-DQS provides users with the option of viewing pre-made tables or running their own query and creating self-determined tables. Pre-made tables include options to c
ompare the composition of U.S. taxes, taxes as a portion of GDP, the income tax, and labor taxes to taxes in other countries. There are also pre-made tables to evaluate state revenues, rates and distributions. The system also presents users with the option to create their own tables by comparing states across the board on a variety of state and local finance-related revenues and expenditures. There are an incredible number of search criteria, including, revenue from tobacco taxes and the lottery and expenditures like education and the cost of police and fire protection.

In a tough economic climate the Tax Policy Center offers great tools for states to evaluate their expenditures in comparison to those of other states. The Data Query system offers a flexible and easy to use tool to
view data along different dimensions, in real or nominal dollars, and as a per capita or a fraction of personal income, general revenues or total expenditures basis.

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