Three Ways That Census Studies Can Change A Life

By Travis H. Brown

Throughout my book tour travels, we have a chance to meet families who are the stories within our How Money Walks data.  We have met couples in Naples, Florida, who have migrated their snowbird status away from part-time to full-time.  They might move from cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, or Saint Louis.

While their story is big and personal to them, too often this significant change in census trends goes unreported.  That is why it is good to see someone like Michael Barone’s summary on census changes in the Washington Examiner.  Thanks to blogs like Kevin Glass or Michael Barone, others who are less familiar with our deep dives into these long-term trends might become more interested into what is rebuilding America’s center of wealth.

But for those with a personal interest, it seems better to apply some kind of a call to action than just that of your own.  What can those families do to help spread the word that incentives really do matter?  Here are three ways to apply this at your next community meeting:

  1. Sponsor a trivia night using the long-term data from our application:  how many of your neighbors really understand how and from your community’s income is rising or falling?
  2. Share your community data with a recent college graduate:  is your son or daughter aware of the connection between how income flow can oftentimes direct him/her to a more prosperous job?
  3. Share your trivia news with your local legislator.  Too often, local decisions are being made with little regard for their true impact.  By sharing census news about what has been changing in your city over the last decade, legislators can make more informed choices.

To measure is to know.  Let’s help spread the knowledge of how America is working today.

Conference Media and Marketing: Video by Travis H. Brown

I recently lead my book tour to CPAC 2013. The How Money Walks booth generated a great deal of media buzz and conference excitement. We used large touch screen televisions to drive interactive data and prompted attendees to “transform their state” with our data. In this video we discuss a few pointers on connecting with media and creating quality interactive engagement at your next conference.

Governor Bobby Jindal rolls out plan to eliminate the Louisiana State Income Tax

Bobby Jindal rolls out State Income Tax Reform with Travis H. Brown’s How Money Walks Data. The Data used by both Governor Jindal and Executive Director of the Louisiana Department of Revenue Tim Barfield can be found in the How Money Walks ebook and app.

Travis H. Brown: Why Taxpayers Are Fleeing California and Flocking to Florida

By Dan Holland

Travis H. Brown is the author of the timely new book, How Money Walks: How $2 Trillion Moved Between the States, and Why It Matters. He is also the CEO and co-founder of Pelopidas, LLC, a St. Louis-based public affairs and advocacy firm and president of Let Voters Decide, a coalition that supports state tax reform and the protection of voters’ rights. We sat down recently to discuss his findings after distilling fifteen years’ worth of IRS taxpayer data which reveal a massive movement of American working wealth.

RealClearMarkets: A lot of people are watching what’s going in California right now, where they just jacked up the state’s personal income tax rate dramatically. Phil Mickelson of course stepped on a big bee’s nest recently with his comments about how he was getting hit hard by California’s high taxes and how he was considering leaving. You’ve also got Texas Governor Rick Perry going into California trying to lure businesses back to his home state where there is no income tax. What’s going on here? Is this a harbinger of things to come?

Travis Brown: Americans understand that the global competition to attract and keep highly talented entrepreneurs is fierce. Phil Mickelson understands that his price of work is higher than that of his competitor Tiger Woods, in part due to the golfers’ two different states of residence (California for Mickelson, Florida for Woods).

Governors who understand tax competition, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, are winning big and are likely to gain more from high tax states. Corporations and individuals that stay in high tax states like New York or Illinois are at a distinct disadvantage long-term. The state governments that thrive from understanding how money walks should serve as a positive example for our federal government.

RCM: Since we’re on the subject of Phil Mickelson and sports, let’s discuss LeBron James for a minute. Do you think taxes played a role in his decision to play for the Miami Heat, rather than the New York Knicks? Could you actually make a case that if New York had lower state taxes, LeBron may very well be wearing a Knicks jersey today? Heck, the Knicks might have even won a championship by now?

Brown: High net worth individuals do not move every year. However, when they do, they understand that it is not what you make that is most important. It is what you keep (in your pocketbook) that counts. LeBron James was likely better off in Miami than New York, even if his endorsement career moved off the court. American small businesses work just like LeBron James: fast on their own court, nimble with taking career risks, and quick to expand into new opportunities when they arise.

In our book, there is a great personal perspective from Joseph Calhoun, CEO of Alhambra Investment Partners. He discusses how ironic it is to attend a home Miami Heat game where so many transplanted New Yorkers are rooting for the Knicks.

RCM: Now, there are obviously a lot of different factors which influence where a person chooses to live. Weather, family and friends, and so forth. Does the IRS taxpayer data you looked at seem to indicate that a state’s income taxes play a leading role in people’s decisions?

Brown: When you look at fifteen years of Internal Revenue Service data, across more than 130 million taxpayers, you can start to observe the patterns of human behaviors. Taxpayers are fleeing from high tax states like California, and flocking to low tax states like Nevada or Texas. The performance of states with no personal income tax is amazing – over $146 billion of net gain of adjusted gross income.

Unfortunately, the reverse is also true – states with the highest personal income rates or per-capita income burden lost over $100 billion in adjusted gross income. Families understand that tax factors are important in their decisions to relocate because the “price of work” varies depending upon where you choose to live.

RCM: Which states are the biggest winners and which states are the biggest losers?

Brown: We dedicate an entire state in the book How Money Walks to Florida, which is far and away America’s biggest winner. The Sunshine State has gained over $86 billion in adjusted gross income (AGI) since 1995, from other states like New York ($16.8 billion), New Jersey ($10.2 billion), and Illinois ($6.2 billion). Since our data tracks active state 1040 tax return changes of residence, this wealth transfer is unlikely to be merely a retirement effect.

New York State lost over $58 billion in AGI, enough money to build 39 Yankee Stadiums. The rate of loss for New York State over fifteen years is $10.7 million every day. The City of New York – just the five boroughs – saw a loss of $43.8 billion, roughly equal to the market value of Time Warner.

RCM: Last question. You’ve obviously spent a considerable amount of time and resources putting your tax migration findings together. If you had to take out your crystal ball, and predict where this whole tax debate is going in the next, let’s say 5 – 10 years, not only on the state level, but on the federal level as well, what would you predict?

Brown: States that ignore positive or negative signals from highly-mobile taxpayers do so at their risk. Low tax states are likely to continue to attract more wealth, as families flock to places where income and opportunity are more welcome. High tax states that lose their economically mobile taxpayers will be faced with even more dramatic decisions on taxing or spending, since their tax base is narrower. Governors and state leaders who champion this reality are likely to inspire or reform Washington, DC, towards a better economic path.

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How State & Local Governments Tax U.S. Businesses

By Travis H. Brown –

During my book tour travels to share information about taxpayer mobility for How Money Walks, I often field the question about how our states and cities attract or discourage business investment within their community.  Lately, there has been more debate in Washington, DC and beyond about how to why to lower corporate income taxes from groups such as the United States Chamber of Commerce.

I had the occasion to join a Cato Institute workshop hosted by Chris Edwards and Richard Rahn where the topic of comparative levels of taxation on American businesses was discussed.  According to Edwards, our federal tax on corporate income generates about $300 billion a year.  While this corporate income tax rate was once thought to be competitive, other countries such as Canada or Japan have since lowered their rates relative to ours.

However, what I found interesting is just how this revenue compares with the widely-variable ways to collect taxes on businesses at the State & Local Government level.  By contrast, Edwards estimates that state and local governments collect about $640 billion a year from various business taxes in 2012.  This is based upon the Council of State Taxation’s annual survey with Ernst & Young.  This order of magnitude alone should interest most corporations regardless of their business structure.

The various modes of taxation applied to business by states and cities also varies widely.  Out of the $640 billion collected, about $245 billion is applied to property taxes.  Nearly $130 billion is collected from sales taxes applied on business purchases.  State applied taxes on corporate income amounts to $46 billion.  This leaves other various taxes collected at $223 billion.

As businesses are forced to flee from high tax regimes in favor of lower tax regimes, it seems equally important to me that state and local governments concern themselves with how their business climate appears from a standpoint of a taxing nexus.  This is true for all industries of business, not just sales & use tax conflicts with Amazon.com.

Chris Edwards also tabulated the actual growth in total state & local government spending.  In 2000, it was estimated at $1.41 trillion among the fifty states.  In 2012, it has grown to $2.31 trillion.  Despite much rhetoric of cutbacks in state & local spending, annual increases as a whole have remained steady.

As our federal government struggles to find new ways to diet, it will remain important for U.S. businesses to pay equal attention to what is happening within and across the states.

Helping Roll Call & Politico Readers Use How Money Walks Apps

For those who can use constituent data to help others understand how America is working, we hope that the How Money Walks applications that are available for both Android and Apple phone users will prove helpful.  Our Apple IOS titling came back a little different, as the “taxpayer data explorer.”

Recently, we had a chance to make such data available to many on Capitol Hill while in Washington, DC, just after the State of the Union speech.  We were pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome by many, who were eager to learn more about state & tax burdens.  Considering the vast armies of lobbyists, appropriators, and defense sequester experts who were bombarding the Hill, we received a very hospitable reception.

The applications allow ordinary taxpayers to become extraordinary community advocates.   By using the app, one can search by city, county, or state, and quickly learn how both people and their taxpayer wealth has been moving over the past 15 years.

To see how we envision that this can assist Congressional staffers, check out this quick video:

For a more detailed summary of how such data was presented along with the Heritage Foundation, Tax Foundation, and the Cato Institute, you might also appreciate this summary:

I heard it on the Radio: Summer Calls for Entrepreneurship & Tax Reform

By Travis H. Brown

Recently, I had the pleasure to join the Peter Schiff radio show across America to discuss what all of our states need a flatter, simpler tax code.  During this radio interview, we spoke more of the differences between States such as Connecticut versus Florida which doesn’t even have a personal income tax.  It is always surprising to me that so many Americans are not aware of just how much working wealth moves to states that reward more production, like Texas, Tennessee, and Florida.

That is precisely why I will continue to advocate for state tax reform, just as I have previously on the American Entrepreneur radio program.  Hard-working Missourians are not afforded the economic prosperity that they deserve when our state tax regimes disadvantage our economies.  Sound economic policies that reward growth is the only state of mind with which to be.