Money walks — the flight to suburbs and more prosperous regions. Is it tax policy? Or something else? | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Money walks — the flight to suburbs and more prosperous regions. Is it tax policy? Or something else?

Posted By on Sun, Sep 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM

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Here's something fun to noodle with if you have time. A Jefferson County native was fascinated with this website, How Money Walks, and I agree there's some interesting stuff there.

The map (flash player required) uses IRS figures to show movement of wealth, as measured by adjusted gross income, from one place to another — broken down by state and metropolitan area. There's an ideological angle,  naturally. It's meant to show that rich people have walked away from high-tax places like California. I'm not ready to accept the premise entirely. Taxes alone don't explain decisions to move. Arkansas, with a high income tax rate that has flattened over the years, still manages to be a "growth" state. Louisiana, where no tax break is off the table, was a loser over the time period.

I think you can see some other forces at work in just this one slice above, on Pulaski County. A huge amount of income here moved to suburban counties over the period studied, for a giant net loss. Pulaski did gain a nice chunk of income from people leaving Jefferson County. I don't believe it was tax rates that put those feet in motion.

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