12 April 2023 | Tax and Budget

Tax Migration Is a Myth

Emily Fetsch | April 12, 2023

What do we know about people who move? 

  • Nationally, 1.5 percent of people move out of state each year.
  • People move long distances because of jobs and family. 
  • Lower-income people are more likely to move than higher-income people. 
  • Kansans might not be snowbirds: Kansas seniors are increasing in population share, not shrinking. In fact, they are the only population group that is increasing in its share of the population.  

Taxes Have Very Little Impact on Most People’s Decision to Move

Ten years ago, Kansas made huge changes to its tax structure, but did not see any major changes to in-migration. There was no surge of people from other states clamoring to take advantage of the tax cuts.

Kansas isn’t unique. Despite an increase in tax changes among states, interstate migration has actually declined.

Community Investments Matter

People want to move to a community that has good schools, safe neighborhoods, and clean water. Policies to increase the quality of life of a location lead to population growth and good paying jobs.

Economist Amanda Weinstein says while “catering to families” is not often thought of as “economic development policy,” “it absolutely is. And it is much more effective economic development than tax breaks or anything else policymakers do.”

If policymakers want to encourage people to move to (and stay in) Kansas, they should be focused on ensuring the state retains the programs and services families need to grow roots in our state: affordable housing, quality education, good jobs, and sound, safe infrastructure. Investments like these will benefit current and future Kansans and keep our communities thriving.

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