New Yorkers’ Tax Blues Are Driving Them Out

While Frank Sinatra wanted to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep, today’s New Yorkers are looking to live in states where taxes aren’t so steep.

New York, whose state and local taxes are among the highest in the nation, is bleeding residents due in large part to the state’s extraordinarily high tax rate. According to a new study by The Empire Center for New York State Policy:

From 2000 to 2008, in both absolute and relative terms, New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.

Of those who left, 1.1 million were former residents of New York City. That means that the Big Apple lost one out of every seven city taxpayers.

And it’s not New York City’s giant sewer rats that are driving people away.

From the folks at the Empire State Center:

What accounts for New York’s chronic inability to attract and retain more Americans than it loses every year? Any attempt to answer that question must begin with New York’s state and local tax burden, perennially ranked among the heaviest in the country.  Taxes aside, likely explanations differ regionally. Downstate residents face high taxes and housing costs rated among the most “severely unaffordable” in the world.  Land-use regulations in downstate New York also tend to inhibit growth.  In upstate New York, housing is relatively inexpensive but even more heavily taxed, and new economic opportunities have been scarce.

While one-third of outbound New Yorkers seek sunnier clime and fresh-squeezed orange juice in Florida, that doesn’t mean that cold weather is the motivating factor behind the migration. The Empire Center notes that New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all seen increases in population, while New York’s has been shrinking.

The study’s prognosis? New York needs to change its ways:

This much is clear: with New York now facing the most serious fiscal and economic crisis in its modern history, government policies should be aimed at slowing down and ultimately reversing the state’s population drain.

One famous conservative has already pledged to leave. Last March, radio show host Rush Limbaugh, whose show is broadcast from Manhattan, proclaimed that he was “officially vacating New York” because he doesn’t want to foot the bill for a bloated government:

It’s punishing the achievers for the mistakes and the lack of discipline on the part of a bunch of corrupt politicians that have run that city and state into the ground for I don’t know how many years — and I, for one, am not going to take the blame for it.

Perhaps some tax cuts and fiscal responsibility are in order.


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