Tax Day 101: Are Some States Driving People out with High State Taxes?

By Trumbull, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, April 14, 2010 | Go to article overview

Tax Day 101: Are Some States Driving People out with High State Taxes?


Trumbull, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor


Seven of eight states with the biggest population outflows have high state taxes.

Among the millions of Americans paying taxes this week more than a few of them probably feel like hiring a moving van. That's because what state they live in can have a big impact on they total tax bill. Some states, like California and New Jersey, have income taxes with top rates above 10 percent. Others charge no income tax at all.

Taxes are just one reason people might move. But it's interesting to note the overlap between tax rates and migration trends in the past decade. Start by considering this: Nine states levy no income tax, according to the Tax Foundation, a research group in Washington. Those are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington State, and Wyoming. Of those nine, all but one - Alaska - saw more people migrating in than out (within the 50 states) during the period from 2000 to 2008, according to research by the Empire Center for New York State Policy. Eight states, by contrast, saw significant outward migration - an amount equal to 4 percent or more of their population - during that time. And many of those states also happen to have higher-than average taxes. (Since 2008, the impact of recession has slowed migration trends but generally hasn't reversed them.) The eight states with big population outflows are California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The District of Columbia also saw heavy net migration outward. Just how high are taxes in these states? A Tax Foundation map tells the story, along with numbers crunched by the Federation of Tax Administrators in Washington. California, New Jersey, and New York have so-called "millionaires' taxes" (higher income-tax rates on the rich). The top rates in California and New Jersey are higher than 10 percent of income, and New York's is nearly that high. Four out of five other states with this kind of tax structure also saw out-migration during the decade, with Oregon the exception. …

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