One of the tricks, or possibility of playing a trick (which I would never do), in the presentation of social and economic data is adjusting it – for population, income, inflation, and other conditions – so it is truly comparable and meaningful across geography and time.
With the May 31 release of fiscal 2004 state and local finance data from the U.S. Census Bureau, you may have heard that New York’s state and local taxes are still the highest per capita in the country. The per capita measure doesn’t take into account the higher overall wages and costs in downstate New York, which both limits the pain of higher taxes and requires them to purchase public services of equivalent scope and quality. Thus I have always used the Bureau’s other measure, revenues and expenditures as a share of the income of area residents, as the more fair and accurate metric. No matter: New York is still number one among states, and by some margin, and New York City is much higher than the rest of the state.