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Do higher taxes cause people to move?

Do higher state taxes cause residents to move away?
Do higher state taxes cause residents to move away?
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While most Americans these days feel that any tax is too high, some could be taking such resentment to the next level.

In a Maryland study, researchers found a net loss of 31,000 residents moving elsewhere between 2007 and 2010. This decrease coincided with a “millionaire’s tax” put forth by Governor Martin O’Malley. Change Maryland, the anti-tax group which released the study, claims that the tax, which imposed a 6.25 rate on those with incomes exceeding $1 million, is partly to blame for this exodus. Essentially, critics of such taxes assert that wealthy individuals and families are moving to states with lower income taxes. The group claims that Florida, which has no state income tax, has especially benefited from the fleeing Marylanders.

But others don’t feel this claim has any weight. For instance, people every year all across the country move to Florida for the weather, too. And what about here in California? The marginal rate for the wealthy is already fairly high, and could increase. Will we see an exodus in our state? Due to Maryland’s irregular size and borders, it has easy access to several states with the same basic geography and climate. That can’t exactly be said here. A move would be drastic.

You hear about NBA players avoiding certain teams due to high taxes, but do non-professional athletes have the same luxury of choice? Have you ever moved because of taxes? Would you ever give up the weather of the Southland for, heaven forbid, Arizona?


Bill Watkins, Executive Director, Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks

Kirk Stark, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law and faculty coordinator of the UCLA Colloquium on Tax Policy & Public Finance, an interdisciplinary workshop designed to explore leading research on taxation