Millionaire Migration After the Trump Tax Bill: Implications for Progressive Taxation

Grant Type: academic

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $34,224

Grant description:

Progressive taxation is highly polarized in the United States because some states have millionaire taxes while others have no state income tax at all. The 2017 tax reform legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, amplified these differences by capping the state and local tax, or SALT, deduction. This effectively reduced top tax rates in some states while increasing them in others, leading some, including governors, to worry that this new tax differential will set off a wave of millionaire tax flight and a new “race to the bottom” in state taxes on the rich. Using confidential data from IRS tax returns, the author will examine elite mobility and embeddedness in the wake of the 2017 tax reform. The author seeks to understand if the rich are more likely to move when their tax rates are high, whether the TCJA-induced tax differential led to greater migration, and, conditional on moving, how much this tax reform increased the likelihood that moves are to lower-tax destinations. These questions are of great importance as state and local taxes are essential for states’ capacity to provide services and alleviate inequality. And while previous work shows the existence of effects among particular job classes, this paper would provide policy-relevant estimates for the universe of high-earners in recent U.S. history.

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