Tennessee is among only 10 states in the county, and the only state in the deep south, to report a taxpayer surplus, according to Truth in Accounting (TIA).

TIA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based in Chicago, Illinois, that describes its mission as “to educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable and transparent government financial information.”


The organization has been analyzing and publishing government fiscal data since 2002. According to its most recent reporting, Tennessee boasts a financial surplus of $4.1 billion, or $2,100 per taxpayer. A surplus is the amount of money leftover after a state pays its bills.

Tennessee’s taxpayer surplus had grown each fiscal year, coming up from a $600 burden per taxpayer in 2009. The state hit the black in 2012, with a $900 surplus per taxpayer. The surplus grew each year until 2015, and it has held steady at $2,100 per taxpayer since.

Tennessee has the ninth highest taxpayer surplus in the country.

The 10 states with a taxpayer surplus include:


Graphic by Ashley Coker

Tennessee’s neighbors to the north, Kentucky, came in as as the state with the fourth highest taxpayer burden. It is sitting $33,700 per taxpayer in the red.


While Tennessee ended the fiscal year firmly in the black, TIA’s financial study of the nation’s 50 most populated cities found that Nashville was not so fortunate.

With a $15,000 burden per taxpayer, Nashville ranks 41st out of the 50 cities. The median city burden was $5,900.

A taxpayer burden means the city of Nashville lacked the money it needed to pay its bills without sinking into the red. Each taxpayer would have to send the city $15,000 to get them back in the black.

The previous fiscal year was TIA’s first year analyzing cities, so there are no past results to compare this number with.

You can reach Ashley Coker at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter via @theashleycoker.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.