February 4, 2023

Kansas lost population in 2021, residents seek lower tax burden

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New population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Kansas is one of 18 states that lost population in 2021.  Kansas had a net loss of more than 5,000 people from domestic migration, which was greater than the small natural population gain (births minus deaths). Domestic migration is people moving in and out of states.

Five states that gained population overall had net losses from domestic migration – Virginia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Washington.

Most of the states that lost population due to domestic migration have two things in common: a high tax burden and/or excessive COVID restrictions.

The four states with the largest domestic migration losses as a percentage of population have some of the highest state and local combined tax burdens according to the Tax Foundation.  New York had the largest loss and has the highest tax burden.  The next three states with the largest domestic migration losses – Illinois, California, and Hawaii – have combined tax burdens ranked #10, #8, and #3.

Only two states among the ten with the highest tax burdens (Connecticut and Rhode Island) gained population from domestic migration, likely because they are adjacent to states with extreme COVID restrictions (New York and Massachusetts.)

Kansas had the 11th-worst domestic migration loss and has the 22nd highest overall tax burden, but Kansas also has the worst effective tax rate on mature businesses and the 4th-worst tax burden on retirees.

Conversely, most of the ten states with the largest domestic migration gains have some of the lowest tax burdens in the nation.  Florida, with the largest domestic migration gain, has the 43rd-lowest tax burden.  Texas had the 2nd-largest gain and has the 47th-lowest tax burden.

Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia had large domestic migration gains and have tax burdens in the 40s.  North Carolina has been cutting taxes and just passed another massive reduction.

Nevada has the highest tax burden (#29) among the top ten domestic migration gains, but benefits from being next to California, which has very high taxes, extreme COVID restrictions, an oppressive regulatory regime, and rapidly rising crime.

The Kansas Legislature overrode Governor Laura Kelly’s veto to pass an income tax relief measure in 2021, but Senator Caryn Tyson, Chair of the Senate Tax Committee, says much more needs to be done.

“Kansas is losing residents because of the unfavorable tax environment.  We need to have long-term tax relief for Kansas to make it a favorable place to live.”

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