I'm pleased to see James B. Stewart of The New York Times -- who's no right-winger, but who's also not exactly Paul Krugman -- looking at the evidence and concluding that, no, the rich do not flee states or countries in droves when taxes are raised. "The Myth of the Rich Who Flee from Taxes" is well worth a read, and well worth sending to all the relatives and friends who regularly send you right-wing e-mail forwards, even though you know they won't read it.
But if the facts disprove the notion that wealthy people flee tax increases, it doesn't seem to matter, because the myth gets the results anti-tax advocates want:
Low-tax advocates like [Fox's Stuart] Varney point to Maryland as a prime example of tax flight. Maryland created a millionaire tax bracket in 2008 with a top rate of 6.25 percent. But a year later, the state reported that the number of millionaires filing returns had dropped by a third, and that total tax revenue from the group fell despite the rate increase. After a chorus of media criticism -- "Millionaires flee Maryland taxes" (The Washington Examiner) and "Millionaires Go Missing" (The Wall Street Journal) -- the state legislature let the increase expire in 2011.So the facts didn't support the fleeing-millionaires stereotype -- but the millionaire tax got overturned anyway. Enjoy your reality, liberals -- we richies got your law overturned anyway.
But a study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit research group in Washington, found that nearly all the decline in millionaires was the result of a drop in incomes largely attributable to the stock market plunge and recession, and not to migration -- "down and not out," as the study put it.
In 2009, just 364 people in the millionaire bracket moved from Maryland or died (the data didn’t distinguish between the two) -- about the same percentage who disappeared in 2007, before any tax increase. And in 2009, more than 1,500 taxpayers entered the millionaire rolls, either because they earned more or moved to Maryland that year. That data "directly contravenes the notion that changes in tax policy were discouraging the affluent from working hard and earning substantial sums of money, or driving them out of the state altogether," the study concluded.
Bonus value at the link: It's accompanied by a photo of one of the rare actual tax-evaders in the world, Gerard Depardieu, shown with Vladimir Putin. What's striking is that Depardieu now has precisely the same body shape as Chris Christie.
No disrespect intended -- I was a fat kid myself -- but I'm old to remember when a lot of people regarded this guy as a sex symbol.