Escape From New York? High-Taxing Empire State Loses 3.4 Million Residents in 10 Years

May 28, 2012 - 11:47 PM

JFK airport

Passengers at New York’s JFK international airport. (Photo: JetBlue)

(CNSNews.com) – New York State accounted for the biggest migration exodus of any state in the nation between 2000 and 2010, with 3.4 million residents leaving over that period, according to the Tax Foundation.

Over that decade the state gained 2.1 million, so net migration amounted to 1.3 million, representing a loss of $45.6 billion in income.

Where are they escaping to?  The Tax Foundation found that more than 600,000 New York residents moved to Florida over the decade – opting perhaps for the Sunshine State’s more lenient tax system – taking nearly $20 billion in adjusted growth income with them.

Over that same time period, 208,794 Pennsylvanians moved to Florida, taking $8 billion in income.

“Many of these New York and Pennsylvania residents no doubt moved to Florida for the warm weather,” says the foundation, a nonpartisan research group. “[B]ut many more may have moved there because the state does not have an individual income tax, an estate tax, nor an inheritance tax.”

The Tax Foundation has created a “migration calculator” based on data from the Internal Revenue Service, tabulating the number of individuals moving between states each year, and income affected by the shifts.

The calculator shows that 612,520 people renounced their citizenship in New York State and moved to Florida in the 10-year period, taking with them $19.7 billion in adjusted growth income.

Between 2009 and 2010 alone, 40,195 New York residents moved to Florida, taking $1.3 billion in income.

According to the group, New York ranked second among the states for the highest state and local tax burden in 2009.  The Empire State was ranked highest for tax burden every year from 1977 until 2006, except in 1984 when it was ranked second.

New York State has a progressive personal income tax rate ranging from 6.45 percent to 8.82 percent for those earning over $2 million. Sales varies by county, and is between seven and eight percent.  In Manhattan, the sales tax is 8.875 percent.

According to the Retirement Living Center, which examines tax burdens by state for those nearing retirement, New York also levies a gasoline tax at 49.0 cents per gallon and a cigarette tax of $4.35 per pack, along with an additional $1.50 per pack in New York City.

New York is also one of 17 states plus the District of Columbia that collects an estate tax, with a $1 million exemption and a progressive rate from 0.8 percent to 16 percent.

In 2007, New York State collected $1.1 billion from its estate and gift taxes, the highest of any of the states, according to the Tax Foundation.

California is also known for more onerous taxes and regulations, and the foundation shows similar trends of migration from there to other states like Texas and Arizona.

The Tax Foundation ranked the Golden State sixth highest in the nation for state and local tax burden in 2009.

Between 2000 and 2010, the most recent data available, 551,914 people left California for Texas, taking $14.3 billion in income.  Texas has no state income tax or estate tax.

A total of 48,877 people moved to Texas from California between 2009 and 2010 alone, totaling $1.2 billion in income.  Another 28,088 from California relocated to Nevada and 30,663 to Arizona, a loss of  $699.1 million and $707.8 million in income respectively.

Overall, California had the most departures between 2009 and 2010 – 406,883 people, representing a loss of $10.6 billion in income. Over that year 365,763 people moved there, representing a net loss of 41,120 residents.

Since 2000 1.2 million more people have left California than have moved there, the second biggest net loss, after New York.

Florida, meanwhile, had a negative net migration of 966,934 between 2000 and 2010 – meaning nearly a million more people moved to the state than left. Texas also has a negative net migration – 807,552 – during the same time period.

Florida and Texas rank the two lowest in net migration over the decade, followed by North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, each of which has a negative rate.

The Tax Foundation acknowledges that taxes are not the only reason to flee a state. “Taxes are one of hundreds of factors that go into a person's decision to move,” it says on its website. “Others include age, technology, job prospects and the quality/quantity of government services provided.”

The foundation also points out that the migration calculator is not definitive.  “A true study that sought to quantify the importance of taxes for locational decisions would need to account for as many other factors as possible, in addition to possible serial correlation issues between variables, especially taxes.”