Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

August 21, 2013

Exodus

Are high taxes causing people to leave Maryland?

Using tax return information from the Internal Revenue Service, The Tax Foundation says Maryland lost 66,000 residents and $5.5 billion in taxable income during the decade 2000-2010.

According to MarylandReporter.com, conservatives say this is a strong indication people are leaving the state because of its high taxes and moving to other states where taxes are lower.

Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we have been suggesting this possibility for some time now.

We occasionally receive e-mails that include computer-altered photographs of Maryland road signs saying things like “Maryland Welcomes You. Bring Your Wallet,” or “Welcome To Maryland. What’s In Your Wallet?”

Some people seem to agree with our notion that Maryland’s government apparently believes it has better uses for our money than we do.

A Tax Foundation map that shows the migration of income indicates high-tax states like New York, California and New Jersey are the biggest losers when it comes to population and tax revenue. Lower-tax states like Florida, Texas and Nevada — which have no state income tax — were the big gainers, along with Arizona and North Carolina. Migration cost Pennsylvania $4.38 billion in tax revenue, but West Virginia gained $117 million.

Neil Bergsman, director of what Maryland-Reporter.com says is the “tax-friendly” Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute, doesn’t disagree with the Tax Foundation’s figures. He does say the foundation “wants us to assume” people are leaving of Maryland because of taxes, when they actually “are moving mostly for other reasons” like warmer weather and lower housing costs.

We would suggest to Mr. Bergsman that taxes have a major influence on the price of housing.

On the other hand, one of the states that gained population and revenue was Maine, which actually has higher taxes than Maryland does. Unless someone lives in northern Alaska (one of several low-tax states that lost population), he’s not likely to move to Maine in search of warmer weather.

Collection of statistics has become close to an exact science. The same cannot be said for interpretation of statistics. If you want to know why people have moved to another state, ask them.

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