Looking at aggregated 2016 state and local taxes per residents from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute sees the state as bearing a relatively high tax burden.
“New York, as an example, had the highest tax burden in the entire country,” said Michael Austin, an economist at the Sandlian Center. “For Kansas, because of its high sales, property, as well as other taxes, that put the state ranked at 26th. What we also found prevalent was that the top 10 lowest tax states, not only did they outperform Kansas, but they even outperformed higher tax states drawing in new residents. That’s where Kansans seem to be going every year.”
Austin says people are thinking about their pocketbooks even when they don’t seem to be.
“Every reason for moving, at the very least, implicitly, considers government tax and spending policy,” said Austin. “If you’re going to move for a new home or for a new school district, you may consider the property taxes, right, in those listings of homes or school districts where you could reside. If Americans are leaving to another state for a job, searching for jobs can be dissuaded if the taxes of your take home pay just take a little bit too much.”
Taxes aren’t the only determining factor as to why people choose to move, either.
“We found that states that have a high tax burden also have a high spending burden on their residents,” said Austin. “When we look at states relative to Kansas that spend more than Kansas, we realize the state is drawing in residents from those higher spending states. On the reverse, states that spend less than Kansas, Kansas loses its residents to those states that have a lower spending burden.”
Critics of low taxes may still make the argument that what encourages people to move are well funded government programs. Austin doesn’t disagree, but the Sandlian Center argues that Kansas should do what works and quit doing what doesn’t.