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Tax Reform and Interstate Migration




Tax reform could prompt even greater interstate migration—unless high-tax states cut taxes. Chris Edwards writes:

The 2017 tax law cut individual tax rates and roughly doubled standard deductions, but it also imposed a $10,000 cap per return on [state and local tax] deductions. Those changes are expected to reduce the number of households that deduct state and local income, sales, and property taxes from 42 million in 2017 to 17 million in 2018.

Millions of households will feel a larger bite from state and local taxes and will thus become more sensitive to tax differences between the states. The tax law may prompt an outflow of mainly higher-earning households from higher-tax states to lower-tax states.

Even before the new tax law, a substantial number of Americans were moving from higher-tax to lower-tax states. Looking at migration flows between the states in 2016, almost 600,000 people with aggregate income of $33 billion moved, on net, from the 25 highest-tax states to the 25 lowest-tax states in that single year. […]

Of the 25 highest-tax states, 24 of them had net out-migration in 2016. Of the 25 lowest-tax states, 17 had net in-migration. The largest out-migration is from high-tax New York, whereas the largest in-migration is to low-tax Florida. Florida is enjoying an influx of wealthy entrepreneurs and retirees looking for a tax climate that boasts no income tax or estate tax. [Internal citations omitted.]

[Chris Edwards, “Tax Reform and Interstate Migration,” Cato Institute, September 6]


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