Fact Check: Do Only Trump Voting States Receive More Than They Pay in Tax?

Republicans have given the Biden Administration little support for introducing tax or spending measures recently, rallying against both the Inflation Reduction Act Bill and the American Rescue Plan.

While the GOP’s fiscal conservatism won’t make front page news, some are noting a gap between what red states traditionally pay to the federal government versus what they spend, suggesting that it’s Republican territories who get more money.

In one recent analysis on Twitter, it was even suggested that Trump-voting states are those that paid the least and got the most. Newsweek went to find out if the former president’s heartlands were the biggest beneficiaries.

Donald Trump voter
Donald Trump-voting states paid less in federal taxes than it received in financial contributions, according to recent claims on Twitter. Pictured here, a supporter holds a hat during a “Save America” rally at Alaska Airlines Center on July 09, 2022 and (inset) Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally on 17 September, 2022.
L-R: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The Claim

A tweet posted on September 20, 2022, which has received more than 62,000 engagements, said that “every single state that voted for Donald Trump receives more money from the federal government than it contributes. Red states have functioning state budgets only because of taxpayers in blues states.”

Iterations of this claim focussing around federal dependence of different states have been shared on Twitter, Reddit and other platforms before.

“GOP swindlers ought to hush re Dems and handouts! Dem-led states pay more to the fed govt than they get. GOP-led states get more fed govt funds than they pay.
So, who gets the handouts?” another tweet said.

The Facts

Trump brought in tax cuts during his presidency that lowered rates for corporations from 25 percent to 21 percent, worth $1.5 trillion.

It seems unsurprising that Democratic states—some with larger populations and more high earners (such as New York and California)—would pay more in taxes than Republican states.

Analysis from 2021 by the personal finance company WalletHub found that eight of the 10 most federally-dependent states were Republican.

However, the question of whether Trump states receive more requires some qualification.

The calculation the tweet refers to (i.e. the sum of federal contributions received minus federal taxes paid) is otherwise known as the balance of payments.

One source that records this information annually is the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a nonpartisan think tank, which has published analyses up to 2020.

Based on its analysis, it does appear that after the 2016 election, it was almost entirely Democratic states that paid more in federal taxes than they were handed out.

The only Trump state to have paid more in taxes than it received was Utah, which in 2019 had a net negative balance of payments of $495 million.

In 2020, all states received more than they paid in federal taxes; this isn’t unexpected, taking into account this was when the country went into lockdown during the pandemic.

However, after correcting for the $1.5 trillion in COVID emergency spending, only two states (Connecticut and New Jersey, both Democratic) paid out more than they received during 2020.

After the 2020 election, the picture does not appear to have changed much.

An analysis by fintech company MoneyGeek found that, based on data from 2021 (i.e. after President Joe Biden was elected), only two states that it defined as Republican contributed more than they paid.

How MoneyGeek defined a “Republican” state did not necessarily require it to have voted for Trump at all (“where the Republican candidate won three out of the five elections”).

Joe Biden Trump
It does not appear that the pattern in spending since Joe Biden became president has changed. Pictured here, Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally to support local candidates at the Mohegan Sun Arena on September 03, 2022 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a primetime speech at Independence National Historical Park September 1, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Spencer Platt and Alex Wong/Getty

There has not been an analysis of balance of payments published for 2021 by Rockefeller or other political think tanks. However, in the context of the Biden Administration’s most recent tax and spending hikes, it’s unlikely that the status quo has shifted significantly.

So, while Trump states appear to have received more in federal funding than they paid in taxes, the statement is not completely correct, if only by a small margin. The tweet does not specify to which presidential era it is referring, which makes the underlying claim more problematic to assess, too.

Trump recently claimed that the Inflation Reduction Act would increase taxes for middle income taxes, despite a pledge Biden made that there would be no tax rises for those earning less than $400,000 per year.

A Newsweek Fact Check of that claim rated it “partly false,” noting that Trump’s statement was based on a single piece of analysis, which was a projection of potential follow-on costs after corporations and others are taxed.

The Ruling

Needs Context

Needs Context.

The tweet doesn’t clearly say whether it refers to states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 or 2020 election. If we are only referring to the spending record of states after the 2016 election, then only one Trump state, in one year, paid more than it received. It appears this pattern has not changed significantly since Joe Biden became president either.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team

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