Sean Hannity aside — "I'm going to leave and I'm taking all of my money with me — every single solitary penny," said the Fox News host — no one really moves out of New York to avoid higher taxes. While isolated celebrity examples (and more often, just threats) make the news, the actual phenomenon is extremely rare, according to the actual numbers, as compiled in a new study by NYC's Independent Budget Office: "High-income New Yorkers were no more or less likely to move than other households in 2012."
Of the higher-income households that did move from the city, 42 percent stayed in state. And if they did leave New York, it probably wasn't even to a state with lower taxes: 22 percent of those making more than half a million dollars went to New Jersey, which has its own millionaire's tax. Next on the list for wealthy New Yorkers were Connecticut and California, not exactly known as havens.
As the New York Times notes, "That means that 86 percent of the households making $500,000 or more that left the city moved to four states with reputations for high taxes." (Just 2 percent went to Florida, where there's no state income tax.)
Intelligencer's Kevin Roose took on "The Myth of Millionaire Tax Migration" last year:
[...] the reason why we only hear about rich tax-fleers once in a while (Gérard Depardieu being the most recent example) is that they compose an infinitesimally small minority of the wealthy. The vast majority of people, especially rich people, tend to like where they live. They have strong ties to their communities. They sit on local boards. They enroll their kids in good schools. They have nice houses, well-landscaped yards, and friends in the neighborhood. For them, the costs of moving — both financial and emotional — tend to far outweigh the benefits of entering a friendlier tax regime, no matter how many tens of thousands of dollars those savings amount to.
For New Yorkers, it'd also mean getting used to places not typically considered livable: "States known for lower taxes, among them, South Dakota, Delaware, New Mexico, Utah, Tennessee, Louisiana, Colorado, Alabama and Wyoming, did not even register on the study's list of destinations for wealthier New York City movers," the Times reports. I mean, can you imagine?