Are some states at a comparative advantage such that they are able to employ more lucrative taxing systems than other states?
It is without a doubt accurate to contend that some states do indeed have a comparative advantage, which enables them to employ more lucrative taxing systems than other states have. In many respects some states just happen to be in a better natural position than others like California, or be blessed with greater natural resources like Alaska and Texas have been.

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There are various factors that can allow some states to have more lucrative tax systems than others. There are some factors that no state has control over been there such as oil and gas reserves, whilst other factors they can control like taxing the sale of goods, or taxing earnings. Now the importance of factors can wax and wane over time. For instance the North Eastern states were affected by the decline in heavy industries, the Mid-Western states are prone to decline whenever the agricultural sector is in a depressed state, while gas and oil reserves will be exhausted eventually.

There are differences in how lucrative tax systems in the different states as some states have a better understanding of how to make their taxes more effective at raising revenues. Differences in the employment rates can make a real difference to the revenues states gain irrespective of the exact systems in place. The more people that are working the more taxpayers each state will have. Besides when people are not working they will make social security claims and spend their state’s money at the same time as they are no longer paying direct taxes.

What effect if any does a widening tax gap among states have on states and on the nation as a whole?

The widening tax gap among states makes some states increasingly wealthier than other ones. Now much of the tax gap can be accounted for by factors such as the population of each state, its location, and how modern its infrastructure is. For instance the natural resources that can be exploited, any industries located in each state, and other factors that can generate extra revenue such as tourism. The tax gap can widen as a result of how much each state has to spend just as much as the amount of taxes raised. California may have more taxpayers than any other state yet it also has lower social security costs and less people unemployed compared to New Jersey for instance.

Taking this a step further should the federal government intervene on behalf of less fortunate states to level the tax playing field?

Now there could a political answer to this issue as well as a financial answer. Financially there can be arguments in favor of the federal government intervening on behalf of the less fortunate states to level the tax paying field. For instance it could suggest all of the states should all levy exactly the same taxes at the same rates. That way, in theory at least the tax playing field would be level. In practice though even with exactly the same taxes at exactly the same rates there would still be a tax gap. The only chance that the tax field could be anywhere near level would be for the federal government to allow the states with lower revenues to charge more taxes at higher rates than the wealthier states.

However it is unlikely that the federal government would take such action. It is not the American way for the federal government to act in such a way. Instead it is more likely that the federal government will only intervene to bail out the states that are on the verge of bankruptcy.