As the state of New Jersey demonstrates, punishing tax policies have other serious consequences:
More than $70 billion in wealth left New Jersey between 2004 and 2008 as affluent residents moved elsewhere, according to a report released Wednesday that marks a swift reversal of fortune for a state once considered the nation’s wealthiest.
“This study makes it crystal clear that New Jersey’s tax policies are resulting in a significant decline in the state’s wealth,” said Dennis Bone, chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and president of Verizon New Jersey.
The report was commissioned by the state Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of New Jersey to study the effects of wealth migration on charitable giving after executives noticed more affluent philanthropists were moving away. Wealth includes assets such as real estate, stocks, bonds, 401ks, mutual funds and vehicles.
But economists say there are many other implications for the state’s financial health.
Wealthy residents are a key driver for everything from job creation and consumer spending to the real estate market and the state budget, said Jim Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. In New Jersey, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay more than 40 percent of the state’s income tax, he said.
“That’s probably why we have these massive income shortfalls in the state budget, especially this year,” he said.
Until the tax structure is improved, he said, “we’ll probably see a continuation of the trend, until there are no more high-wealth individuals left.”
And when all the "rich" have left New Jersey, who will pay the bills? As one commenter on the story quipped, "Last one out of New Jersey, turn off the lights!"