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Income taxes and the destination of movers to multistate MSAs

Paul A. Coomes and William Hoyt ()

Journal of Urban Economics, 2008, vol. 63, issue 3, 920-937

Abstract: We examine how differences in state income tax rates, as well as other state and local taxes and public service expenditures, influence the choice of state of residence for households (federal tax filers) moving into multistate metropolitan areas (MSAs) using data from the IRS on the migration of taxpayers. MSAs that are on borders provide a spatial discontinuity--discrete differences in state tax rates within a single labor market. These MSAs allow residents to live in one state and work in another state. We find that differences in state income tax rates have a significant impact on the relative rate of migration to the states within an MSA. However, contrary to what would be expected, this impact is only significant in MSAs in which the filing state is based on employment (states without reciprocity) and not for those states in which the filing state is the state of residence (states with reciprocity). In MSAs where states do not have reciprocity agreements, a difference of ten percent in tax rates leads to a 4.1 percent difference in the relative rate of incoming taxpayers. Analogously, we find that a ten percent difference in state tax rates in these MSAs results in a 3.3 percent difference in the rate of tax base inflow (AGI). Our results suggest that one reason that differences in state income taxes appear to have more impact in multistate MSAs without reciprocity is that only relatively large differences in state income tax rates have any impact on migration and these differences are much more pronounced in MSAs without reciprocity.

Date: 2008
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