When it comes to “wealth-friendliness,” the Cowboy State is riding high. Wyoming has kept its top spot as America’s most “wealth-friendly” state according to an exclusive annual ranking by Bloomberg Wealth Manager Magazine.
Bloomberg Wealth Manager is Bloomberg’s monthly magazine targeting the needs of financial planners and investment advisers who counsel the affluent. In its seventh year atop the “wealth-friendly” chart, Wyoming reigns supreme when it comes to keeping the wealth in the hands of the breadwinners, not state government.
Wyoming has no state income tax, corporate tax, estate tax, trust tax or taxes on social security benefits. In addition to being on of the most pension-friendly states, sales tax, property tax and inheritance tax are among the lowest in the United States.
For the annual “wealth-friendliness” survey, co-author Thomas Saler compared the impact of state taxes on salary, real estate, personal property, and retirement assets for four hypothetical families. The editors ran exhaustive research on tax codes and effects in each state. The results vividly demonstrate how tax bite can vary from state to state — and how each state’s burden can change depending on the nature of one’s assets. For example, the identical set of financial parameters that generated a tax bill of $7,259 last year in tax-friendly Wyoming could have cost a family $56,419 in tax-hell Rhode Island.
Jackson Hole Benefits
Jackson sits within the geological valley of Jackson Hole along the western edge of Wyoming. The town site is without equal, surrounded by seven National Forests, the Teton Range to the west, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks to the north, the Gros Ventre Mountain Range to the east, and the Snake River Canyon and Mountain Range toward the south. The views, variety of terrain from the flats of the National Elk Refuge to the towering jagged peaks of the Grand Tetons, and the innate respect the community has for these surrounding wilderness areas make Jackson a one of a kind.
In the winter, 400 inches of powder, the annual average, make this a snowy wonderland. There is skiing and snowboarding on the steeps and chutes in three of the top-rated ski destinations in the U.S: Jackson Hole Mountain, Grand Targhee, and Snow King resorts (www.jacksonholechamber.com). The braver of heart can opt for heli- and snowcat skiing or boarding in the pristine backcountry. There is dogsledding, sleigh rides, snowtubing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, with cross-country and telemark skiing to round out the possibilities. Condé Nast Traveler has also rated Jackson among the world’s best après-ski scenes.
When the snow melts (some years as late as May), the area transforms into a playground of a different kind. Nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks offer unparalleled camping and hiking. Horse packing into the backcountry is a memorable way to experience the parks’ more remote areas. The Grand, rising 13,770 feet, is one of the most sought-after mountaineering challenges in the U.S. and offers more than 50 classic routes.
Biologist-led “safaris” to view the bison, pronghorns, moose, bear, and bald eagles that inhabit the parks are popular, as are rollicking raft trips down the Class IV Snake River. The Snake also has prime fly-fishing; the Oscar-winning film based on Norman McClain’s “A River Runs Through It” was filmed here. Even without snow, the area’s resorts are world-class with no better way to appreciate the explosion of wildflowers than by mountain bike or a scenic chairlift ride to the upper-elevation hiking trails. Championship golf courses are located nearby.
Jackson, founded in 1894, is graced with historic boardwalks with enchanting storefronts, restaurants, and art galleries, all anchored by a town square. The already-vibrant art scene has been enhanced by the recent addition of a Performing Arts Pavilion at the Center for the Arts (www.jhcenterforthearts.org), a 500-seat theater and music auditorium. The National Museum of Wildlife Art (www.wildlifeart.org), displays paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by more than 100 distinguished artists ranging from early American Tribes through contemporary masters. The Grand Teton Music Festival (www.gtmf.org) is not to be missed, as are the 11-day Fall Arts Festival; Old West Days and Rodeo; and Elkfest, which includes the annual Antler Auction. Local Boy Scouts collect antlers that have been shed by animals at the Elk Refuge and offer them to bidders, with proceeds benefitting the winter feeding program.