As Murphy vows millionaires tax, Christie says Jersey can be sorry if wealthy peop…

Higher taxes on millionaires coming this year? 

Not so fast, says a report by the outgoing administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

The report, released Wednesday, warns of the financial repercussions of spooking wealthy residents into fleeing the Garden State. When the very rich leave, the report says, it has an outsized impact on New Jersey tax collections.

The report reflecting on 24 years of taxpayer movement in and out of New Jersey comes days before Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, who has said he wants to raise taxes on income over $1 million, takes office.

Christie himself has warned that wealthy residents are already fleeing New Jersey for lower tax states like Florida and any increase in the top tax rate — currently 8.97 percent on income over $500,000 — will fuel this outmigration.

The study, conducted by the Office of the Chief Economist and the Office of Revenue and Economic Analysis and based on the IRS’s Statistics of Income publications, found: 

  • Income from people moving into the state isn’t replacing lost income from people moving out. The state experienced a net loss of $35.2 billion from 1993 to 2016.
  • Most of that loss is from former residents earning at least $200,000 a year.
  • There wasn’t a single year where New Jersey came out ahead.
  • Florida took the largest share of the net loss in wealth, $18.3 billion, followed by Pennsylvania, $4.6 billion.
  • The annual loss of income more than doubled after the state hiked the top tax rate on income over $500,000 from 6.37 percent to 8.97 percent in 2004.

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Sheila Reynertson, a tax policy analyst at progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, criticized the report, saying it fundamentally misuses the IRS’s data and is “a textbook example of cherrypicking date without any context” to make a point.” 

New Jersey has a highly progressive income tax, which means high-income earners pay the lion’s share of the tax.

So while “most” of the residents leaving New Jersey earned less than $50,000 — it’s the minority earning more than $200,000 who hurt the state’s bottom line, according to the report.

“It is not the number of people leaving the state that is critical. It is the composition of their income levels,” it said.

The tax loss from losing a single $1 million earner filing with single status is equal to 59 taxpayers earning $50,000, the report said. “If one single filer earning $1 billion emigrates, it takes $70,618 single taxpayers earning $50,000 to replace the lost revenue,” the report said.

That’s why the state trembled in 2016 when the state’s wealthiest resident, billionaire David Tepper, relocated to Florida.

Treasurer Ford Scudder told lawmakers last year that the top 100 tax filers pay 5.5 percent of New Jersey’s income taxes.

And the state is losing “an alarming share” of those taxpayers, the report said.

“Of all New Jersey resident taxpayers who had incomes above $200,000 in 1997, about 40 percent were no longer…

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