I’m a tax exile, and proud of it

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I'm a tax exile, and proud of it

faustaI lived in the North East for most of my life, hav­ing moved to the region right after grad­u­at­ing from col­lege; first, upstate New York, then, New Jersey.

New Jer­sey, con­trary to what the despi­ca­ble Woody Allen thinks, is a beau­ti­ful state, home to the wealth­i­est zip code in the United States. I was blessed to have owned houses not in that zip code, but in Mor­ris­town, Con­vent Sta­tion, and Prince­ton, three towns that are afflu­ent and charming.

My son is a true Prince­ton native, hav­ing been born, raised, and lived in the town (and town­ship, before con­sol­i­da­tion), who, once it was time for col­lege, went away to his top col­lege choice, grad­u­at­ing with hon­ors this year. Because of his occu­pa­tion he must live in New York City — oth­er­wise he would sub­ject him­self to a very long com­mute at all hours of the night. Like both his par­ents, he is ready to make his own way into the world.

At the same time, my mom is in her nineties and lives in Florida, and I must spend time with her. Most of my rel­a­tives live in Florida.

While all this was going on, my real estate taxes went up by $2,000 last year, a 14% increase, bring­ing the total to $16,000 in annual real estate taxes. While the law says that there’s a 2% ceil­ing on annual prop­erty tax increases, there are a plethora of rea­sons why your prop­erty will get whammed with more (for instance, if you do cer­tain improve­ments on your prop­erty). Prop­er­ties are assessed at mar­ket value, which means that your assess­ment may go up now that the mar­ket is up, so your tax bill increases, while the tax rate itself has remained unchanged. And on and on.

Fight­ing such increases is expen­sive — you need to hire a lawyer — and time con­sum­ing, and the odds are it may not work.

Then there’s what lurks in the hori­zon: School taxes make up 12 of the total prop­erty tax bill (the cur­rent bud­get is $86.9 mil­lion), and the school dis­trict wants an addi­tional $100 mil­lion for sundry projects, which they are likely to get. After all, a prior $100 mil­lion was approved ten years ago. Such an increase in debt brings more tax increases.

And let’s not for­get that New Jer­sey has a 7% sales tax, a state income tax, inher­i­tance taxes, and estate taxes.

So I sat down, did a rough cal­cu­la­tion of what it was cost­ing me to stay in New Jer­sey ver­sus what it would cost to move to Florida, which has a 7% sales tax but no state income tax, no inher­i­tance taxes, and no estate taxes. Florida won.

It looks like I’m not alone:
North­east loses 40% of House seats as peo­ple flee high-​tax states

The Cen­sus Bureau reports that pop­u­la­tion growth has shifted to the South and the result is that the 11 states that make up the North­east are being bled dry of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Washington.

The 11 states that make up the North­east have been bleed­ing dry their con­stituents, so many of us did the num­bers, talked to our fam­i­lies, and moved.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, news, and cul­ture at Fausta’s Blog.

faustaI lived in the North East for most of my life, having moved to the region right after graduating from college; first, upstate New York, then, New Jersey.

New Jersey, contrary to what the despicable Woody Allen thinks, is a beautiful state, home to the wealthiest zip code in the United States. I was blessed to have owned houses not in that zip code, but in Morristown, Convent Station, and Princeton, three towns that are affluent and charming.

My son is a true Princeton native, having been born, raised, and lived in the town (and township, before consolidation), who, once it was time for college, went away to his top college choice, graduating with honors this year. Because of his occupation he must live in New York City – otherwise he would subject himself to a very long commute at all hours of the night. Like both his parents, he is ready to make his own way into the world.

At the same time, my mom is in her nineties and lives in Florida, and I must spend time with her. Most of my relatives live in Florida.

While all this was going on, my real estate taxes went up by $2,000 last year, a 14% increase, bringing the total to $16,000 in annual real estate taxes. While the law says that there’s a 2% ceiling on annual property tax increases, there are a plethora of reasons why your property will get whammed with more (for instance, if you do certain improvements on your property). Properties are assessed at market value, which means that your assessment may go up now that the market is up, so your tax bill increases, while the tax rate itself has remained unchanged. And on and on.

Fighting such increases is expensive – you need to hire a lawyer – and time consuming, and the odds are it may not work.

Then there’s what lurks in the horizon: School taxes make up 1/2 of the total property tax bill (the current budget is $86.9 million), and the school district wants an additional $100 million for sundry projects, which they are likely to get. After all, a prior $100 million was approved ten years ago. Such an increase in debt brings more tax increases.

And let’s not forget that New Jersey has a 7% sales tax, a state income tax, inheritance taxes, and estate taxes.

So I sat down, did a rough calculation of what it was costing me to stay in New Jersey versus what it would cost to move to Florida, which has a 7% sales tax but no state income tax, no inheritance taxes, and no estate taxes. Florida won.

It looks like I’m not alone:
Northeast loses 40% of House seats as people flee high-tax states

The Census Bureau reports that population growth has shifted to the South and the result is that the 11 states that make up the Northeast are being bled dry of representation in Washington.

The 11 states that make up the Northeast have been bleeding dry their constituents, so many of us did the numbers, talked to our families, and moved.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.