July 31, 2012

The Facts Don’t Lie on Taxpayer Migration

Justin Katz

What makes politics and policy fun is that people of good will and honest intentions can disagree and strive to change each other’s mind. Starting from one’s essential worldview, myriad stages of decisions must be made without the possibility of complete information — that is, subjectively — so persuading and being persuaded are distinct possibilities.

We can agree, for example, that we have a moral duty to help those who suffer and struggle among us. Whether government power is the appropriate tool to answer that moral call is a matter on which good people can differ (let alone the wisdom of specific programs).

What makes politics and policy frustrating is that, whether from selfish interests or personal investment in flawed ideas, participants often try to distort data points as if they are another layer of subjectivity. If public discourse and representative democracy are to function, there must at some point be a backstop of shared acceptance of facts.

A fact that I raised in a paper written with J. Scott Moody for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is that federal income-tax payers have been leaving Rhode Island consistently for a decade, taking with them the accumulated equivalent of more than $1 billion in annual resident income.

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And this is news? High taxes, high energy costs, limited job opportunities, crazy, corrupt govt. (e.g. the vehicle tax, illegal haven,etc.). Oh and you mean people might move away from all of that?

Posted by: ANTHONY at July 31, 2012 6:44 PM

What do you expect with a dominant political party which says "Screw" to productive people and has open arms for welfare leeches, mooches, corrupt cronies, illegal aliens and anchor babies from every Third World toilet?
Like our west coast twin Mexifornia we deserve EVERYTHING we get.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at July 31, 2012 7:09 PM

But, guys, we have great beaches!

Posted by: Monique at July 31, 2012 9:58 PM

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
And her name, Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome;
Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor
That twin cities frame.
"Keep, Ancient Lands, your storied pomp!"
Cries she with silent lips.

It seems that ANTHONY of the megalomaniac all caps spelling, and Tommy Cranston, the defiling name caller, define immigrants who built this country as tax dodgers and welfare leeches totally miss the point as to who we are and what made us great; and of course Little Sir Echo sends her nodding accord.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 31, 2012 11:15 PM


RI might have great beaches when sewage is not overflowing and rainwater trash is not flowing closing the beaches down and although the beaches are free in RI you have to pay to park in the parking lot and carry your garbage out with you.

I left RI and now have over 110 clean beaches to visit daily that are free with free parking, free bathhouses and showers, free picnic tables and BBQs, trash is picked up daily and beach and picnic areas cleaned and with full time life guards.

My property tax dropped from over $3,200 to $300 a year (I could move to another county and drop it to $150 a year) for same priced RI house. I have no property tax on my car saving me over $500 a year. My retirement income is tax exempt from state income tax and unlike in RI my Social Security is tax exempt. My sales tax is 4% instead of 7% in RI. I don’t have fall, winter and spring heating bills as median temperature 365 day is 78 F degrees and winter low is 60 F degrees meaning I don’t need fall, winter, spring wardrobes only summer. My healthcare insurance dropped $100 a month due to state healthcare reform for same insurance company and my car insurance dropped $1,000 a year again due to state insurance reform moving out of RI. FBI ranks my city as one of the safest for its size (about 90,000 people) and it is ranked 2nd cleanest international city in the world; tourist taxes for hotel rooms, daily meals and rental cars are $5 total a day cheaper than in RI and I am still in the United States living cheaper than in Florida.

Posted by: KenW at August 1, 2012 3:12 AM


Without disputing a word that you say, you name a number of costly services. I cannot imagine that "taxes are low", it is simply that they are "outsourced" to tourists. I suppose that is what the "tourism industry" is all about. I suspect that all of that "free money" may cover up a lot.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 1, 2012 10:49 AM

Warrington Faust,

Unlike RI, Hawaii does a lot more with less and has a tremendous less amount of overhead than RI. RI was first to declare independence and HI was last to be admitted into the union so HI had a lot of best examples to follow as well as bad examples not to follow from other 49 states.

RI is the smallest state ranked 50th in the union at 1,545 sq. mi (including water) but it has 1 state government, 39 city and town governments and 37 school districts across 5 counties with a 2011 US Census population of 1,051,302 people.

HI is ranked 43rd largest state in the union at 10,931 sq. mi (including water) and over 1,500 miles long and over 132 islands and atolls but it has 1 state government, 1 school district which is run by the state and 4 county forms of governments (mayor, city council) with a 2011 US Census population of 1,374,810 people with about 80% population living on 1 of the 8 main islands.

In HI the very transparent governments follows the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principal. State funds are used to operate state government and all of the state-wide school system and county funds are used to operate local services in each of the 4 counties. Fiscal government budgets are balanced for 2 years and if there are any surplus funds at end of 2 years under state constitution the funds must be returned to the taxpayer (I’ve already received one rebate check in 6 years).

Gambling of any form is illegal in the State of HI and this was one of the factors Walt Disney Company cited when it built its new $800 million Aulani 800 room hotel/resort and spa last year in Honolulu and has moved two of its cruise ships to the Pacific Ocean for cruises from CA to HI.

State government gets its operating funds from state income tax, sales tax (everything is taxed including services in HI except prescription drugs), meal/room/rental vehicle transit tax, fuel tax, vehicle registration, safety inspections and any special fees for license, permits special entrance fees for some state parks and services.

All beaches in HI are free with free parking, free bathhouses with showers, free picnic tables with BBQs, life guards, trash pickup, grounds cleaning and some beaches have white, black, green, gray, or red sand.

Counties get their operating funds from property tax, water/sewer use fees, hotel tax and any special fees for license, permits special fees for some parks (camping permits) and services.

Yes the tourist industry in Hawaii is one of the largest in the nation (Waikiki Beach 2mi. by ½ mi. has 72 hotels and resorts alone) which based on last 6 months income if all stays the same for next 6 months projects out to be an unprecedented and all time record of $14 billion tourist dollars (RI is clapping hands because it expects $5 billion from tourists) being injected into the Hawaii economy in 2012. But that money translates into 4% sales tax, County hotel tax, State transit meal/room/rental vehicle tax and fuel tax for rental vehicles.

Because the 4 counties do not run the school system they only need to collect enough funds to operate county services. Hence the 4 county minimum tax rates are Honolulu County=$300/yr., Maui County=$150/yr., Hawaii County=$100/yr. and Kauai County=$25/yr. If your 100% assessed property value minus any senior citizen (age 50 and up is considered senior) or homestead exemptions times the current tax rate per $1,000 is less than the county minimum you must at least pay the county minimum property tax.

There are two exceptions to the above; 1: Maui County does not have senior citizen exemption but gives every property owner a blanket $200,000 exemption (used to be $300,000 before recession) which mean you can own a $260,000 property maximum and pay $150/yr. property tax; 2: All historic listed properties in Hawaii by state law pay the minimum county property tax meaning you can own a $300 million estate in Kauai County and pay by law $25/yr. a year property tax.

Before the recession living in Honolulu County I was paying $100/yr. property tax because of senior citizen and homestead exemptions and now they upped it to $300 per year however, there were no massive layoffs and shutdown of city services but the city council did reduced the number of parades and associated street block parties in Waikiki Beach from 60 down to 40 per year but any parade based on “free speech” gets a free pass. Things are returning to normal and are expected to be back on full track by year 2014 in Hawaii on all islands. We expect all temporary rises in taxes to return to normal levels after things fully stabilize. Oahu (Honolulu) monthly unemployment is down to 5% and 2% more will be back to normal level (2-3%).

The Hawaii state income tax was temporally raised due to the recession to 11% for those making more than $250,000/yr. by Governor Linda Lingle (R). HI is ranked 2nd place in the nation (Delaware ranked 1st by 0.01%) for having the most millionaires per household in the nation that have direct access to $1 million in disposable cash in hand. Tech billionaire Larry Ellison just purchased 98% of the Island of Lanai (6th largest island 13 miles wide by 18 miles long or 141 sq miles) in Maui County for an undisclosed sum but strangely will not have to pay the HI conveyance tax on the purchase. He joins a growing list of billionaires and multi-millionaires that live or own property in HI.

Another thing needed to understand about HI is that its economy is a global economy because it is a major global destination and commerce hub as well as a major military regional command that provides forward presence and security in an area that covers over ½ the world.

If the state constitution is properly written and proper laws are passed setting up state and local government to levels that are minimum and equal balanced it doesn’t cost that much to operate and keep taxes low so not to burden the state population. Of course you need an elected GA and governor at the statehouse that is fully transparent and listening to what the state population is saying.

Posted by: KenW at August 1, 2012 9:00 PM


Posted by: ANTHONY at August 2, 2012 1:14 AM
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