Do Higher Taxes Make People Leave?

Friday, November 14, 2008

In his budget address on Tuesday Governor Paterson said he'd rather cut services than raise taxes, because higher taxes cause population declines. It's a controversial assertion. James Parrott, Deputy Director and Chief Economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute and Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City will debate the issue.

Let us know: If your taxes went up, would you leave New York State?


James Parrott and Kathryn Wylde

Comments [47]

Patrick from New York

This was the worst moderated debates I have ever heard on WNYC. Andrea never let Mr Parrott get a word in edgewise, constantly interrupting with shrill comments, calls from the listeners, and whatever else to facilitate Wylde in her strident pro business advocacy. I am apparently now known as Tourettes Boy in my local bar, Phebes, as I apparently had vocal outburst of "Shut the @#%#$ up" at the moderator as I listened on my Ipod.

I can appreciate that the consummate host, Brian Lehrer, has to have a day off or go on vacation once in a while, but Andrea Burnstein is out of her league on WNYC and should be fired and replaced by reruns of Brian, like every other self respecting talk show does.
Katy Wylde will certainly find a new job for her ga-ga admirer Ms Burnstein.

Nov. 20 2008 10:59 PM

NJ/Stamford vs. NY is irrelevant -- offices make the move to NJ/Stamford for:

1. post/9/11 redundancy planning,

2. shorter commute (at least until PANYNJ improves mass transit -- 5! hours of delays on NJ Transit this week alone on my commute, Raritan Valley Line!).

I'm guessing Kathy knows this already.

Nov. 14 2008 02:10 PM
hjs from 11211

[1] digitalk
one day i hope to visit india. but there is no way i would trade my high US/NY taxes for living in india. taxes/investments increase my standard of living, but anyone who wants low taxes you're welcome to enjoy the 3rd world, as you wish.

Nov. 14 2008 02:01 PM

Taxes already made me leave New York. I'm a life long New Yorker, born and raised.

A decade ago, I became self-employed. Soon enough, I triggered the "unincorporated business tax", which the City levies on top of one's regular income tax, just because one happens to be self-employed. Please.

Once I had enough for a down payment on a house in a culturally-rich area of Massachusetts with cheap real estate, I left.

I am avoiding taxes, and my quality of life is infinitely higher. I own a house, studio and land, for about 1/3 the rent of a 1BR in a decent neighborhood. There are three world class museums within a 5 minute drive, and no unpredictable weekend subway service.

New York is no longer so unique that, in effect, demand for the product is infinitely elastic. As more distinct neighborhoods, shops, and smaller arts institutions are subsumed by condos and chain stores...why bother with the hassle of living in the City? If you can find a means of making a living elsewhere, it's almost guaranteed that your quality of life will improve by leaving.

Surely, this calculation is VERY different calculation for multi-millionaires. You need Manhattan to lead a lifestyle consisting of opening night galas, box seats at the ballet or Philharmonic, or attending society benefits. But if you're just an average culture snob who needs access to museums, music, and some decent theater, there are plenty of alternatives.

Nov. 14 2008 01:29 PM

Jean -- lots of places are like this now outside NYC -- if you're looking for diversity NJ has NYC beat by a mile. Trust me, I moved 212 > 718 > now 908 (Somerset Cnty). What I do miss is Central/Prospect Parks, I know that's huge.

Nov. 14 2008 01:17 PM
Jean Gazis from Brooklyn

To Sally from Passaic: my city children walk much more than their suburban cousins, who must be chauffeured/strollered everywhere. They interact daily with a huge variety of people, unlike their suburban counterparts - my 9yo asked me why campaign spots kept referring to Barack Obama's "funny name" - his schoolmates are of all races and speak many languages. There is nothing cramped or narrow about the life experience of urban children! The phenomenon of helicopter parenting has nothing to do with urban vs suburban environments, but at least in the city children can meet other people who are not exactly like themselves.

Nov. 14 2008 01:10 PM
Maria Rodriguez from Manhattan

Taxes are caused me to move, I have already closed on my new place. People who say the city has low property tax also don't understand that we pay an additional income tax which closes the gap (and by the way condo and co-op owners pay a ridiculous amount of real estate tax - far more than the suburbs). The tax level of an average NYC resident make no sense considering we get no better and often times worse services than I've found in other parts of the country. Then bring in the cost of schooling here and my calculation was to go elsewhere. There is so much waste in this state budget it amazes me that people overlook this under some kind of feeling of community... this is simply ridiculous. Our City and State bring in enormous sums of money, more than most of the others combined-- to ask for more is is simply not sustainable.

Nov. 14 2008 01:02 PM
Sally from Passaic County, NJ

Talk about more urban living bothers me. I was born in NYC. I finally moved to a NJ suburb when I was about 40, and finally was able to enjoy the average day, away from constant crowds and in a home environment that is green and peaceful. City crowds make going to the movies a hassle; lines at every store, uncomfortable crowds on every train and bus, with too many times feeling at risk from drunks, bums and predators.

Going places with children is exhausting, hauling the kids, carriages, food pack, & diaper-changing material- unless you go out of the city by car. Further, NYC parents NEVER let their kids out of their site, burdening them, while restricting children's ability to be off on their own, thinking their own thoughts. Combine this with the tiny residences that NY live in at lush hotel prices (despite roaches and mice) and the lives of children are even cramped and narrowed when they are not pushing through the hassles of city life. People who laud the NY life can afford to take cabs everywhere, buy food and water at preposterous prices, and bring a nanny to assist with the children, (or leave the kids home with one).

And this has not touched on the smell of the city, the strong urine smell at each tree, the sewer smell from water that collects in crevices after a rain,the inevitable smells, trash and vermin from the many food purveyors. I hope that future generations will allow people like me to enjoy the quiet, clean suburban life.

Nov. 14 2008 11:56 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

I would not leave if my taxes rose. I might if the school budgets were cut. I love living in New York. However, my husband and I have a child in the public school system, we earn a lot less than $200,000, and we can't afford private school. We would gladly pay higher taxes if it meant keeping our half-way-decent public system from going to hell.

So yes, Kathryne Wilde, we middle class folks would pay more. Too bad about all those millionaires who can't afford to pay another few hundred dollars.

Nov. 14 2008 11:54 AM
Stuart from Queens

It's not the taxes. I love the constant stress on the fabulous "Quality of life" in NY. Where, the upper east side? I'm a lifelong New Yorker and fed up with the grey, dirty, overcrowded drag that is a daily routine. The symbol of NYC should be a slab of cracked concrete with "welcome" spelled out in those eternal black spots of spit out chewing gum.

When did the simple concept of "walk on the right" become an alien concept? Daily I am cursed at by people, paying no attention to where they are going or caring who else is around them, cross a sidewalk on a diagonal and run dead into me.

I've been elsewhere and NOWHERE has it been as hard to simply buy day to day needs. Here in NY markets are some combination of cramped, dirty, overpriced, service last. In Queens I can barely find one employee who can understand English. I mean I don't demand a lot of service here, just do you have this, where is it and please take my money, thanks.

The public schools are a joke. My kid's "magnet school" constantly begged for contributions of basic supplies (and this was through the good economic times).

Trust me NY is not fabulous enough to make me stay - plenty of museums, movies, theater etc. elsewhere in places where it's pretty nice to live.

Nov. 14 2008 11:50 AM
Max Z.

One thing most posters don't understand is that you don't need six figures if you live outside of NY. Cost of living in other parts of the US are much less than here. Taking a "pay cut" and leaving may actually result in a more comfortable life than before. Leaving is not as hard as one might think.

Nov. 14 2008 11:43 AM
Kai from NYC

People making high six figures aren't leaving NYC. Where are they going to go to get similar paying jobs? Bay area, LA, Boston, DC, Seattle? Same difference with the pay you would receive. (Chicago might be an exception.)

Miami, Atlanta, Phoenix? Maybe, but doubtful the quantity of those high paying jobs are available. What now: Portland, Omaha, Albequerque?

The fact is that the majority of these high income people will not leave because the options beyond NYC are good, but the city's attractiveness and opportunities cannot be matched.

What is more concerning is if middle income people flee en masse.

Nov. 14 2008 11:38 AM
Jean Gazis from Brooklyn

Could you post a source for the 15% higher productivity claim? As a small business person/consultant, I'm very interested. My husband and I have a running joke when he complains that someone hasn't gotten back to him in a timely way, I ask if they are in NYC or elsewhere. It's always elsewhere.

A former employer got a huge tax break not to move out of NYC (which as far as I know, they were never seriously considering) on the grounds of providing jobs here. Then they had a 10% downsizing within 6 months. There seems no way for the average voter/downsized employee to know whether the tax break was given or rescinded. That is the problem, not some small percentage of income tax. And things like subway fares going up and up, and the lack of affordable housing.

Nov. 14 2008 11:33 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

I live in Brooklyn and all you ever hear are people discussing how LOW the real estate taxes are.

People pay $4,000 per year for taxes on a brownstone. In many other places (like Westchester or NJ) you might pay $20,000 for real estate taxes on a single family home.

And my old landlord paid $3,000 per year even though he didn't live there, so he was paying $3,000 for an investment property. Incredible!

I have no idea why the Mayor doesn't raise real estate taxes immediately. Seems like easy pickings.

Nov. 14 2008 11:28 AM
Jesse from New York

Aren’t there states with NO income tax. If tax rates made people leave NY, even by a degree, wouldn’t they already have done so? We can’t complete with ZERO.

Nov. 14 2008 11:24 AM
Perry Luntz from Manhattan

I'm honored to be allowed to pay taxes unlike in authoritarian natins where many peopoe are barred from earning property. I'm also self-employed and a native New Yorker and I find that this city and state governmetn appears to be thinking up ways to drive away the middle cass and replace it by tourist dollars. Little is ever done about traffic in Manhattan (where I live and work) and only tourist areas get beautified or parks or things that help make a city more livable. Trandsportation is helf back except in tourist areas (Second Avenue subway versus extension of 7th Ave line to the Javits Center) and a million other lifestyle needs.

If he current administrationh had donw againn I made ready to move to Canada -- now I'm thinking about staying in the US but moving to North Carolina where regardless of the taxation just for living pleasanly without fire sirens,. garbage and the trucks, constructiojn starting at 6:30AM, letting homeless people roam, and failing to stop horn honkin and driving rage.

Oh for the days of real NYC government tnat loved the middle class (LaGuardis where are you when we need you).

Nov. 14 2008 11:24 AM
Jim from Brooklyn

Gov. Paterson said that he would not raise taxes because New York State's spending was becoming unsustainable. It is my understanding that New York State's budget per capita is higher than almost any other state, and so is the cost of living. This picture has contributed to NYC, particularly Manhattan, becoming a city of the rich and the poor with no one in between. It is business that is fleeing the city and the state, and individuals are following.

Nov. 14 2008 11:24 AM
R from Long Island

How many elderly who raised their families in NY have left in the past two decades to states such as PA, NC and FL w/much lower taxes? The elderly on fixed income just can't afford to live in NY w/such high taxes.

Nov. 14 2008 11:24 AM
Telegram Sam from Staten Island

10% is a huge amount of the state budget deficit, from people who can well afford it!

I just looked up Kathryn Wylde's organization and it's a right wing/libertarian think tank with an obvious ideological agenda, which may explain why she doesn't cite facts and studies - just anecdotal BS. Why are people like this allowed on the show?

Nov. 14 2008 11:24 AM
jeff from brooklyn

Let's be honest, someone pays. In this
case Governor Patterson would have state
workers pay by renegotiating their contracts,
threatening their jobs, since they
presumably cannot move. So the middle class
must subsidize callers like the "high six figure"
woman when she threatens to move.

Nov. 14 2008 11:22 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

I am so tired of being told that we should pity all the rich people who are "suffering" in our current economy (because of choices they made) and how we NEED them and must all take on more financial burden to help my perspective, as an artist and musician who can't afford to buy a home because the real estate market has been driven up so insanely by these same people -- I just can't summon up the sympathy to feel badly that these people are paying taxes.

Nov. 14 2008 11:22 AM
Amanda Staats from Jersey city

First off-Andrea-you need to reign in this crazy lady better and let the other guy talk.
Second-business only started moving in droves to those skyscrapers across the river AFTER 9/11, because they needed some place to go to work!

Nov. 14 2008 11:21 AM
Cara Bucciferro from nyc

The solution is NOT TO RAISE TAXES because their are problems. That is such an easy way out. NYS govnt has more than enough money. I was so excited to finally receive my stimulus $600 from the Federal Govn't, only to have it taken away by EXTRA money I owe for State taxes. YES it does affect people, this guy on the show right now does not have a good sense of reality.

NYC, as wonderful as it is, it getting to expensive for people like me, recent college graduates trying to run their own company, to stay and prosper. Although the clients are their, I can work remotely and do not need to be in the city. Ever dollar makes a difference, and with the city getting as expensive as it is it is DEFINITELY forcing people out. The solution is not to raise taxes, it is to fix the way that the government is WASTING MONEY. A lot of people in their 20's are leaving not just the city but the state, to go places that are cheaper where they can have a better quality of life.

Bloomberg's friends I don't think are under the 250,000 yr mark, so I'm sure he doesn't have any friends leaving because of taxes.

Nov. 14 2008 11:20 AM
hjs from 11211

NYC with higher taxes is still a better value than any other US city, state or rural place, people move for other reason ie they want a yard for their kids to play in.

Nov. 14 2008 11:20 AM
Phoebe from NJ

People earning over $200k who voted for Obama were probably more concerned with the anti-intellectualism and biotry of the current Rebublicans than paying a small amounf of extra tax!

Nov. 14 2008 11:19 AM
em from nj

Higher taxes won't force the rich to flee. As Mayor Bloomberg noted in the sound bite earlier, his friends are all staying put. But it certainly could force the middle class to migrate to lower cost areas as Professor Hughes and Seneca of Rutgers have noted. If the middle class starts to leave, it ripples out through the economy.

Nov. 14 2008 11:15 AM
O from Forest Hills

It costs money to move. Moving will not make a difference. Stay where you are and be grateful to live in NY State. I love NY and will stay here a long time.

Nov. 14 2008 11:14 AM
Max Z.

I would. My career opportunities have declined. On top of that as a New Yorker, I already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation. My small side business is also taking a hit, and taxing that more will just shut it down. There are other states that are reaching out to get me as a resident and as an employer. NY needs to get its priorities straight.

Basically, you cant tax yourself out of trouble. We need to shore up spending.

Nov. 14 2008 11:14 AM
Phoebe from NJ

I moved to NY metro from Atlanta, GA. My property taxes increased 450%, housing is much more expensive and deductions less available. However, it give access to New York City with all the cultural and job opportunties that are here.

Nov. 14 2008 11:14 AM
Telegram Sam from Staten Island

Kathryn Wylde: Why would a tax on millionaires affect the decisions of 30-something, mid-level financial industry workers, most of which make 40K-150K? If anything, they'll be moving to industries that pay less.... Makes no sense.

Also, Jersey has punishing property taxes. I don't think we need to worry about competing.

I like Paterson, but he's not coming clean here.

Nov. 14 2008 11:13 AM
david from NYC

No they wont move because gozillionares like Mayor Bloomberg and his friends alawys find ways to evade taxes and cheat the government and get away with it. It's us little people how pay taxes and keep government afloat.

Nov. 14 2008 11:13 AM
mc from Brooklyn

John from Brooklyn #10,
Exceeded him in what way?

It is unlikely that I would leave. Though the cost of living is high here, my chances of gainful employment are also higher here. Moving away would be a zero sum game, and I'm unlikely to uproot my kids for that.

Nov. 14 2008 11:11 AM
Catherine from rockville centre

Would you please clarify from your opening of this segment: were Bloomberg's remarks in response to the Governor's remarks, or in response to something else?

Nov. 14 2008 11:10 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

It's not so much "they raised my taxes, I am leaving".

It is more a barely discernible process. When someone has a choice between two jobs and one in NY, one might lean toward out-of-state.

Or one might leave the state because they can't make ends (and don't realize that it could be because of taxes).

Nov. 14 2008 11:08 AM
Gary from UWS

I'm on the verge of bolting from New York City. As a small business owner I pay:

- Federal 35%
- Both sides of Payroll Tax (FICA/MC) ~16%
- New York State ~7%
- New York City ~3%
- Unincorporated Business Tax ~3%

It's just crazy. It's as though the feds, state and city want to punish people who start businesses and are successful entrepreneurs.

Liberal community organizers don't get this.

P.S. When you're 65 and want those 50 years of FICA payments back (it is supposed to be retirement insurance), if you make over $200,000 (in 2008) the feds say you make too much to get your own money back. Slick move, Congress.

Nov. 14 2008 11:06 AM
Peter Steinberg from Brooklyn, NY

Would I leave? Doubtful.

More important, where would I go? Pretty much every state and municipality is facing the same fiscal crisis.


Nov. 14 2008 10:57 AM
Lance from Manhattan

I wouldn't leave if a small increase in state taxes were being considered.

But a rising cost-of-living overall in NYC (the combination of hikes in MTA fees, conED, groceries, RENT!!, etc), relative to other locations, would lead me to leave. NY govt seems to be more responsive to the needs/desires of real estate developers and finance specialists than the rest of the citizens. (Property tax cuts are occasionally discussed and enacted, but when was the last time the rental board voted to decrease or hold rates steady?)

In fact, I am planning to move soon for these very reasons.

Nov. 14 2008 10:42 AM
John from Brooklyn

In the short time that Governor Paterson has been office, he has already exceeded former governor Spitzer even before the sex scandal.

Paterson has really come into his own!

Nov. 14 2008 10:30 AM
Ben Bernutty from Hohokus

Statistics should answer the question the segment poses definitively. Every local mayor knows biz's run when taxes go up

Nov. 14 2008 10:23 AM
annie from brooklyn

I think it should be two questions-- do middle class people move because of taxes and do the wealthy?

It's one thing to raise taxes on people who just can't pay more, but another to ask millionaires to pay a bit more in a bad economic time-- that's what people are suggesting the Governor do.

And what about if we don't make our tax system more progressive-- would you move away if our schools get worse? If homeless people are back out on the street?

Nov. 14 2008 10:22 AM
sharpie from Queens

Yes I am moving out. Reason: because they won't go after go the lying, cheating tax evaders living here, with businesses off the books, using different names, etc, then "qualifying" for every benefit out there. I am DONE supporting this corruption, simply because it is politically incorrect to go after them.

Nov. 14 2008 10:18 AM
Sandy "Live Richly" WEILL

Ya know, you're right! These .1% of my annual income taxes are the last straw -- it's North Dakota for me!

Nov. 14 2008 10:10 AM
Leo Queens from Queens

No. I would not leave because of higher taxes as long as there is Accountability and Transparency. I am seriously thinking of leaving the City and possibly the State because of illegal taxes imposed on taxpayers through fee and fines and the misuse of billions by the MTA that are not accounted for plus the hundred of millions that have been redistributed to well-connected developer and politicians in exchange for - NOTHING

Nov. 14 2008 10:07 AM
em from nj

I know the question specified NY, but I think it bears noting that taxes in NJ (especially the highest property taxes in the country) are forcing some to leave the state. This usually occurs with those on fixed incomes or those who have lost a job, but the increasing traffic on 80 and 78 from Eastern PA during the morning rush prove that this is a problem for the state. Hughes and Seneca at Rutgers have been studying this issue. They would be interesting guests for a future segment.

Nov. 14 2008 09:56 AM

Yeh, digitalk/1 -- & heads up on that permanent "grey toxic cloud" reported earlier today on npr, the one engulfing India and China.

I must admit since moving from Asia to NY I've been diggin this clean air. Traffic rules are also pretty cool. Then there's that whole Bush out Obama In thingie.

Would I move to another state? Sure, as long as it was exactly like New York in terms of connections, client base, amusements and international mix.

Nov. 14 2008 09:26 AM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

So, digitalk, what kind of life in India do you lead now? Do you pay any taxes whatsoever? And what do those taxes provide for you?
Michael Moore talks about this mentality in his recent election guide book. For some reason, Americans can't get it through their thick heads that is isn't taxes themselves which are evil but what those taxes pay for. Moore even claims that the French pay less taxes than Americans because through the monies the French pay their government, they get free health care, free college education as well as many other benefits, while Americans have to pay for those necessary things out of their own pockets and in fact pay relatively much more because of that very reason.

Nov. 14 2008 09:00 AM
digitalk from Bangalore India

Higher taxes contributed to my decision to move not only our of New York City, but out of the United States of America (was a former NJ resident commutter to NYC for work).

Prior to moving to India, I was paying:

Sales Taxes
Federal Taxes
New York City Local Taxes
New York State Taxes
New Jersey State Taxes

Nov. 14 2008 02:42 AM

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