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Economy / Business

2017 Tax Law Bolsters Florida's Appeal Among Northeast, Midwest Residents

This house has a for sale sign and a moving truck out front. Census data shows that people from high-tax states in the Midwest and Northwest are still moving to Florida in droves. Credit: Andrew Guyton/flickr.com
Census data shows that people from high-tax states in the Midwest and Northwest are still moving to Florida in droves. Credit: Andrew Guyton/flickr.com

Low taxes and plenty of sunshine have long been Florida’s top attraction for relocation, and recently released U.S. Census data shows that has not changed. It has only accelerated, in the case of residents from some high-tax states.

The Census recently released its latest figures on migration to Florida, covering the 12 months ending June 2018. In first place, New York had more than 63,000 residents move south in 2018. At the bottom of the list is Wyoming, which saw 744 of its residents relocate to the Sunshine State.

The numbers are largely unchanged for the past decade, as Florida attracts many people from high-tax states in the Northeast and Midwest. Since the Trump tax law of 2017 went into effect, with its removal of exemptions for state income taxes, the move south for those taxed residents has accelerated slightly from states such as New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Migration from New York changed little from 2017's Census and it still tops the list as the No. 1 state of origin for new Floridians. The figures come from the annual American Community Survey, which is a sample of U.S. residents, unlike the decennial Census that gathers information from everyone.

For those drumming up new business and jobs for the state, the statistics are good news.

"We've seen over time, a lot of people moving from New York and New Jersey and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Illinois, places that have kind of taxed themselves out of being competitive,” said Jerry Parrish, chief economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation. “And they're looking to Florida for opportunity. They also get a great place to live, and they have a competitive business environment when they get here.”

Census data shows nearly a decade of from where people relocate to Florida, with strong statistics from the Northeast's and Midwest's higher tax states.
Census data shows nearly a decade of from where people relocate to Florida, with strong statistics from the Northeast's and Midwest's higher tax states. Credit: Florida Chamber Foundation.

For other Floridians, the mantra is more along the lines of, “I’m here. Shut the door behind me.”

Author Cathy Salustri moved to Florida when she was 7, settling in Pinellas County where her father worked for a sewer construction company that aided the growth of that area. She said she is pragmatic, therefore, about others moving here, too, while very concerned about the price of growth.

The most recent U.S. Census state-to-state migration data for Florida, which is not shown on the map because it is the destination for the other states. Credit: Florida Chamber Foundation
The most recent U.S. Census state-to-state migration data for Florida, which is not shown on the map because it is the destination for the other states. Credit: Florida Chamber Foundation

"I hate to see things get more crowded because I think so much of what appeals to people, that makes them want to move here, I hope it's not just the fact that we don't have a state income tax. I really do," said Salustri, who wrote “Backroads of Paradise,” which chronicles her road trips to find the remaining oases of Old Florida.

She said the natural attributes of Florida outweigh the theme parks, golf courses and tax shelter that the state has become.

“That was not it for my parents. That was not it for my husband when he moved here,” she said. “It's paradise, and wherever you find the paradise, if it's in the springs, if it's on the beach, if it's up in the red clay in the north, toward the western corner of the state, those are the things I would hate to see this growth pattern impact.”

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Correction: An earlier edition of this story inaccurately said author Cathy Salustri's family settled in Citrus County upon moving to Florida. They settled in Pinellas County.