Anyone who has ever been to California can’t help but fall in love with the state. From redwood forests to desert valleys, sandy beaches to snow-covered peaks, California is one of the most beautiful and geographically diverse states in the US. Throw in weather that is sunny and temperate most of the year and it’s clear why so many people moved to California over the past several decades. But like many other beautiful states, California has been taken over by politicians who are slowly but surely choking it to death.
California’s income tax rate is 13.3%, more than 20% higher than second-place Hawaii, which takes 11% of its citizens’ income. That of course is on top of what taxpayers have to pay to the federal government. It’s no wonder then that more and more people are fleeing California, preferring to live, work, and retire in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and other lower tax states.
Net migration in California is negative, with the state losing nearly one million people over the past eight years. And as more and more high income individuals leave the state, the government will inevitably try to raise taxes on those who remain in order to make up for lost revenue.
It isn’t just those who are in the state already who are discouraged by high taxes. Businesses and individuals who consider moving to California are similarly discouraged by the tax rates. Just look at Bryce Harper, who turned down an offer from the San Francisco Giants because of California taxes. While the Giants were willing to offer him nearly $500,000 more per year in salary, the 13.3% California income tax could have potentially cost Harper $2.5 million more per year in taxes than Pennsylvania’s 3.07% rate.
Like most politicians, California’s won’t see the consequences of their actions until it’s too late. The only reason the state’s net migration isn’t even more negative is because there is so much foreign immigration to the state, resulting in over one-quarter of the state’s population being foreign-born. Losing high income taxpayers and replacing them with low income immigrants isn’t a recipe for maintaining prosperity, however. Before long the quality of life in California will begin to decrease, and California dreamin’ will turn into a nightmare.