To maximize the amount of money you’re getting from your planets, you need to know that the tax rate and population growth trade off directly. Here are some tips to help understand these mechanics. There are two basic methods for taxation: safe tax, and the growth method. I’m working on a mid-point method for comparison, based on planet climate and where the trade-off point exists between growth and continual taxation.
Happiness must be at 70 or above for growth. However, happiness gain happens before growth, so if at 60-some happiness, plus the happiness gain for the turn, happiness reaches 70, population will still grow.
There are no repercussions (other than lack of growth) for happiness levels of 40 or above. Thus, if the planet temperature is too high or low for growth, you can tax the population / natives to 40 happiness if you want… but if you get a meteor shower or other happiness-reducing event, you’ll have riots to deal with!
The safe tax method basically assumes that you’ll be taxing your planet such that the inhabitants (colonists or natives) do not gain or lose happiness each turn. You get moderate but not optimal growth with this method, for most climates.
The growth method for taxation is as follows: tax the planet’s population heavily, such that happiness will drop to 70 on the next turn (or at maximum rate until 70 is reached). Thereafter, set the tax rate to zero (0) and let the planet’s happiness recover. In the meantime, the population will be growing at maximum rate.
Starting condition: Happiness = 100. Happiness gain at zero (0%) tax rate = +6.
Set the tax rate to whatever will drop happiness by 36. The tax rate will be really high (30-some percent or more), and the warning message will show red. This is okay.
Next turn: Happiness = 64.
Now, set the tax rate to zero. Leave it at zero until happiness is close to 100%, but the happiness gain will not put it over 100%. For example, from 64% happiness, gaining at +6 / turn, your rating will progress like this: 64, 70, 76, 82, 88, 94, 100 (hitting 100 evenly). If you hit 98, but gain 4 happiness / turn, then you would resume taxing when happiness hit 98, so you don’t “waste” some happiness recovery.
Taxes and Buildings
The more factories and mines you have on the planet, the unhappier your population will be, and the less you can tax them for the same amount of happiness loss. This also means that they won’t recover happiness as quickly, making the growth method less effective.
Example (generated using the VGAP Calculator):
Note: these vary heavily based on climate and # colonists as well. This is just a possible situation for a particular planet!
0 mines, 0 factories = +6 happiness
80 mines, 50 factories = +5 happiness
80 mines, 120 factories = +4 happiness
Climate Break-Even Point
If the climate is bad enough, but clans will still grow, there’s a point where it’s not actually worth growing your natives or colonists at the expense of taxes, but it varies heavily by climate, # natives, and structures. Plug in some numbers into the Calculator for a particular planet you want to test, and find out where the sweet spot is.