Debate over whether taxes cause migration rages on

Aug 5, 2011

The debate continues to rage in Oregon over whether raising taxes on the rich prompts people to leave the state. A new study claims the answer is no. But as Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, the new research doesn't put the controversy over last year's Measure 66 tax hike to bed.

Last year Oregonians voted to raise income taxes on upper income earners. In the run-up to that election, opponents touted a study that predicted the tax hike would drive wealthy Oregonians…and their tax dollars…out of the state. There’s no definitive data on that yet. But now, a Washington D-C based think tank has published a study it says debunks the claim that tax rates play a significant role in where people decide to live. Bob Tannenwald is a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Bob Tannenwald: "Sure, some families are affected. It's a question of degree, and it's a question of what other factors are much more important."

Tannenwald said his research shows that housing prices and job availability are more significant factors in migration patterns. The Portland economic consultant who produced the original study defends his work. Bob Whelan of ECONorthwest says people who move from Oregon across the Columbia River tend to rely more heavily on capital gains and benefit from Washington state’s lack of an income tax.

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