Archive for May 27th, 2009

When will the politicians learn that hate and envy are not a basis for sound tax policy? The hapless U.K. Prime Minister wants to raise the top personal tax rate from 40 percent to 50 percent. But his class-warfare plan is not going to work since the geese that lay the golden eggs can fly across the border. The Financial Times reports that 30 percent of London’s financial services professionals are thinking of leaving for places such as Switzerland and Hong Kong:

City finance professionals are so worried about the future that nearly 30 per cent are planning to leave London, according to a survey by eFinancialCareers, a jobs website. …Many observers believe employment in the City will recover gradually from next year and hope London can hang on to its position as a leading financial centre if the regulatory response to the crisis is not too heavy-handed. Of those surveyed, 45 per cent thought London’s leading position was under threat, while a third felt it was not. Increased taxes were seen as the main threat, followed by the potential impact of heavier European regulation. “Concerns about the relative competitiveness of the City in the face of impending changes to the regulatory framework coupled to upheavals in the tax system are having an immediate impact on the desirability of London as a location in which to work,” said John Benson, chief executive of eFinancialCareers. 

The Governor of New York is equally foolish. He has proposed a big tax hike on the state’s most successful people, but New York is not a prison (at least not yet). As such, one of the richest men in New York has decided to escape the state’s greedy politicians by moving to Florida. This is another example of why higher tax rates are so destructive. When people are tired of being fleeced, they can move their labor and/or capital. They can choose to be less productive. And they can hire lobbyists, lawyers, and accountants to find creative loopholes. Writing for the New York Post, Mr. Golisano is very happy that his money no longer will be funding tax-and-spend politicians in Albany:

Politicians like to talk about incentives — for businesses to relocate, for example, or to get folks to buy local. After reviewing the new budget, I have identified the most compelling incentive of all: a major tax break immedi ately available to all New Yorkers. To be eligible, you need do only one thing: move out of New York state. Last week I spent 90 minutes doing a couple of simple things — registering to vote, changing my driver’s license, filling out a domicile certificate and signing a homestead certificate — in Florida. Combined with spending 184 days a year outside New York, these simple procedures will save me over $5 million in New York taxes annually. …One thing’s certain: That money won’t continue to fund Albany’s bloated bureaucracy, corrupt politicians and regular special-interest handouts. How did the state get to this point? By spending, spending and spending some more. New York’s budget was $72.7 billion in 1999. Ten years later it ballooned to $131.8 billion. Each year, on average, the budget has risen at an astounding 6 percent compounded annual rate — more than double inflation (2.8 percent). …This problem didn’t begin with the current recession. New York faced a $6 billion shortfall before the economic downturn. However, in the face of economic turmoil, Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith looked to the unions and special interests, who answered with one voice: raise taxes. That was irresponsible — and may just prove to be counterproductive, since the top 1 percent of earners account for about 50 percent of state revenue and are the ones who can and will leave. Among other hikes in taxes and fees, they raised the marginal tax rate on the most successful (and most mobile) New Yorkers to 8.97 percent, the second-highest rate in the nation. Bottom line? By domiciling in Florida, which has no personal-income tax, I will save $13,800 every day. That’s a pretty strong incentive. Like I said, I love New York. But I’m not going to pay any more for the waste, corruption and inefficiency that is New York state government.

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