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REPORT: Working-class New Yorkers are leaving the state

Two separate reports released on Tuesday shed light on the migration patterns in New York State and the impact of COVID-19 and tax policies on these trends.

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s study focused on outmigration and the types of tax filers leaving the state, while the Fiscal Policy Institute’s report examined whether the state’s high earners are moving away due to recent tax hikes.

The Fiscal Policy Institute’s study, titled “Who is leaving New York,” utilized Census, IRS, and New York state tax data to challenge the notion that increasing taxes on the highest earners leads to a loss of tax revenue through migration.

The Fiscal Policy Institute found that outmigration of high earners, defined as those earning more than $815,000 per year, returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, despite tax increases in 2017 and 2021.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The study suggests that it is the middle and working-class individuals who are leaving, largely due to high living costs, including housing.

The Empire Center criticized the Fiscal Policy Institute’s findings questioning the data. The Fiscal Policy Institute defended its methodology, citing the use of IRS and Census data alongside ACS figures.

Comptroller DiNapoli’s data revealed that more individuals left New York in both 2020 and 2021 than moved in, relative to pre-pandemic years, primarily single filers.

These trends have implications for the state’s revenue, prompting a call for lawmakers to closely monitor migration to preserve essential services and revenue sources. Governor Kathy Hochul has indicated reluctance to increase taxes as the state faces a $4.3 million budget deficit next year.

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