The Internal Revenue Service this week released more troubling data for New York, with the federal agency showing more high-earning taxpayers leaving the state.
Tracking returns filed in 2019 and 2020 showed that 479,826 people left New York for another state or country in those years. Over the same timeframe, just 231,439 people moved to the state. That means the state suffered a net loss of 248,387 residents.
And, of course, those people took their money with them. The IRS figures show the moves generated an economic exodus of more than $19.5 billion.
New Jersey and Florida were the biggest beneficiaries. More than 84,500 people moved from New York to New Jersey and took $5.3 billion. By contrast, only 37,127 New Jersey residents moved to New York and brought $2.2 billion in income.
Wirepoints, in its analysis, noted New York suffered the worst net loss of income of any state, with the $19.5 billion representing a 2.5 percent decline in adjusted gross income.
Cities and towns in Illinois lost more than 104,000 people in the 12 months up to July 1, 2021, according to new U.S. Census data released Thursday. Nearly half of Illinois’ losses were from Chicago.
The report for the entire country shows populations continue to shift to towns in the South and West regions of the United States.
“Arizona, Texas, Florida and Idaho all had several places among the 15 fastest-growing cities or towns,” the report said.
Of the 15 largest cities, New York lost nearly 305,500 people. Chicago lost 45,175 people, which was larger than Los Angeles’ loss of 40,537 people. Chicago is the third most populous city behind New York and L.A..
Tax cuts remain a powerful tool to entice people and firms, and the pandemic has triggered a new tax war. After the lockdowns, states and cities predicted unprecedented revenue drops. Instead, economies bounced back quickly from the pandemic, partly because of widespread adoption of remote work and extensive federal aid from the Trump and Biden administrations — hundreds of billions of dollars in unemployment benefits (which kept individuals spending money), business loans and funding for local governments to fight COVID-19.
The March 2021 Biden stimulus then provided local governments with an unprecedented $350 billion to bolster their budgets. The revenue gusher has produced state budget surpluses where experts had only recently predicted steep deficits.
Nearly a dozen states, mostly Republican-governed, have used the windfall to cut taxes. Idaho reduced its corporate and individual tax rates and shrank its income-tax brackets from seven to five, producing a $163 million tax cut for residents and businesses. The state also sent $220 million in rebates to everyone who filed tax returns in 2019.
Advocates for higher taxes often say that the levies don’t drive away wealthy individuals or businesses. When New Jersey raised taxes on the wealthy in November 2020, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said, “When people say folks are going to leave, there’s no research anywhere that suggests that happens.”
Yet New Jersey, with taxes on the wealthy and on businesses long ranking among the nation’s highest, ranked a dismal 42nd in economic growth over the five years preceding the pandemic, according to one study, and it has been an economic laggard for two decades. Voters in this overwhelmingly Democratic state showed their disapproval in giving incumbent Murphy an extremely narrow victory in his November reelection bid. Polls showed that most voters favored the Republican position on cutting taxes over Murphy’s.
Seemingly overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic launched millions of Americans into a massive work-from-home experiment, with roughly 7 in 10 workers who could work remotely doing so in May 2020.
But from a bird’s eye view, the way Americans moved in 2020 looks pretty much the same as it has for years. More people moved out of the biggest cities than moved in, while smaller cities and suburbs grew — especially in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
But this is Detroit, which has the highest effective property tax rate of any major city in America, at 3.58 percent of market value. If the tax man assesses your house at its full renovation cost, this would add $537 to your monthly mortgage bill, bringing it to $1,295.
That hefty charge might not look too bad if the quality of local government services is top shelf. As Charles Tiebout observed in his classic 1956 article on local public finance, people “vote with their feet” and shop for their preferred combination of services and prices among various localities. Some happily buy at the public services equivalent of Neiman Marcus, others at Walmart.
From public safety to education to infrastructure, however, Detroit is no Neiman Marcus. To be charitable, let’s suppose the city’s services are on par with those of other Michigan cities, where the average property tax rate is 1.54 percent. Elsewhere, then, a comparable $180,000 investment comes with a monthly mortgage bill of just $989, or $306 a month less than in Detroit.
New York’s top business leaders are gearing up for a potential mass exodus as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers prepare to raise their taxes.
With the state budget set to increase the personal income tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers as well as hiking corporate taxes, some executives who fled the city for Florida temporarily due to coronavirus pandemic lockdowns are considering permanent relocation, according to business leaders briefed on the matter.
Wealthy business leaders who have historically resisted moving at least some of their resources to Florida or other less-taxed states explained to CNBC that they are now seriously reconsidering as working from home becomes the norm, allowing more flexibility.
Recent research also tells us something about just who the urban emigrants have been. They haven’t been middle-aged people with families. For the most part, they haven’t had middle-class incomes. They have been young people, unattached and economically stressed. Among Americans age 18-29, Pew reported, 11 percent said they had moved in 2020 for virus-related reasons. Within the low-income population cohort, the figure was 9 percent — roughly twice as high as the overall U.S. number.
But even these figures are misleading. Very few of these movers were uprooting themselves and striking out for new locales. Many of them were college students whose campuses had closed down due to virus concerns and who were moving back in with their parents on a temporary basis. In June, a full 61 percent of those who had relocated for pandemic reasons had moved in with one or more family members. In November, the number was 42 percent.
The state lost nearly 80,000 people in the year that ended July 2020, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. That’s 22,000 more than were lost the year before and the seventh consecutive loss of population in the past 10 years. Illinois led the nation in population decline for the past decade at 255,000.
Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, told the Economic Club of Chicago on Wednesday the state has been losing population for years. Without details, he said the state needs to support small and big businesses. He also said leaders need to unite on messaging.
Real-estate veterans and hedge-fund executives believe a seismic shift is under way, one that is moving vast amounts of Wall Street wealth from New York to South Florida. For the past several years, Wall Street has been colonizing the Sunshine State, attracted to more favorable tax policies and sunnier climes. And the momentum is only accelerating amid the pandemic.
While prices are under pressure in New York amid an oversupply of high-end condominiums on the market, price tags in Palm Beach and Miami appear to be on an unstoppable upward trajectory.
Last week, private-equity executive Scott Shleifer, a co-founder of Tiger Global Management, paid over $120 million for an oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, setting a price record for the state. New Jersey hedge-fund executive David Tepper is also in contract to buy a $73 million house on the ocean nearby, The Wall Street Journal reported.
While he maintains a $238 million home in New York and another luxury condo in Chicago, Citadel founder Ken Griffin has also been on an acquisition spree in South Florida, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy land in Palm Beach and Miami, and is opening an office in Miami.
Sixteen mostly coastal and Rust Belt states lost population from July 2019 to July 2020, according to the Census Bureau’s annual population survey, and Illinois, West Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Mississippi and Vermont have shrunk since 2010. At the same time, many low-tax Sun Belt states have continued to attract newcomers.
The pandemic may have contributed to population losses in some states as city dwellers with means escaped to rental and vacation homes. Foreign immigration also fell after President Trump suspended new green cards in April. Some states, especially in the Northeast, experienced thousands of more deaths than usual due to Covid.
But the bureau’s annual population estimate captures only the first few months of the pandemic when migration generally declined as most people hunkered down. Geographic mobility increased over the summer and fall, and the pandemic seems to have accelerated migration flows that have been occurring for years. States such as New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California have counted on foreign immigration offsetting net out-migration. That didn’t happen this year, so many states lost population for the first time in decades.
United Van Lines, the largest moving company in the United States, keeps track of its clients’ migration among the 48 contiguous states. It publishes that data each January, comparing the number of inbound moves to outbound moves for each state. As those who use United Van Lines are individuals and companies using large moving trucks, this data is only a subset of all moves, but the National Movers Study still provides a targeted look at the types of interstate migration patterns we can expect to see in government-issued data once it becomes available.