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Losing people

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One of the reasons people move from one state to another is to escape high taxes. That has been especially true of New York, according to the Tax Foundation.

In fact, New York’s high taxes have driven away more people than any other state, reports the New York Post, citing the Tax Foundation’s recent study based on federal tax return data. New Yorkers who fled to other states during this period represented $119 billion in combined annual earnings.

More than 3.4 million New Yorkers left the state from 2000 to 2009. Some 600,000 headed to Florida, which has no income tax and no estate tax.

New York collects more income tax per person than any other state and taxes estates worth more than $1 million.

Florida’s average sales tax is 6.62 percent, compared with New York’s 8.48 percent.

The exodus of New Yorkers has been tempered somewhat by the arrival of 2.1 million people who moved here during the same decade.

But taxes have long been a problem for the Empire State. The Tax Foundation rated New York first in overall tax burden every year but one from 1977 through 2006, the Post notes. It dropped to second place in 2007 and 2009, and third in 2008.

In 2009, the average American paid 9.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes. New Yorkers paid 12.1 percent — $6,157.

The Empire State is also 49th in business tax burden. Businesses in New York pay more corporate, income, sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes than do enterprises in most other states.

New York is losing “earning power” and even “job skills” to other states, E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for New York State Policy told the Post.

People and businesses leave for a variety of reasons, it must be said. But taxes must be considered a major contributor to these decisions.

An improved tax climate would help New York attract business as well. We can do better.

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