A rarity: IRS reverses course

After a number of people (including certain members of Congress, a group which likely included Andy Harris) raised the question, the Internal Revenue Service decided not to drop beyond the 2010 tax year an important research tool people like Jim Pettit and Change Maryland were using to track the inflow and outflow of income and tax filers between states. You may recall that earlier this summer Change Maryland used the IRS data to throw cold water on Martin O’Malley’s claims of Maryland’s great economic recovery, and I expanded on it to make the case that county policies could be to blame as well.

Jim was kind enough to bring this item to my attention, though. In the piece on the Tax Foundation blog, Joseph Henchman writes:

…the data is vital to seeing trends and using economic tools to measure what might have caused them. (States like California, Illinois, and Maryland have also found the data embarrassing, as it shows negative net migration year after year.)

The prospective absence was also noted in the Washington Examiner:

Americans deserve as much information as possible about how each (taxation) model is serving its citizens. It would be a shame if the IRS stopped reporting which model Americans are choosing.

The theory, of course, is that people are fleeing high-tax states like California, New York, Maryland, and Illinois (all generally run by liberal Democrats) to relocate in less punitive places such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and even Delaware in search of a better tax climate.

As it turns out, the IRS is actually committing itself to working with the Census Bureau to, “develop additional migration statistics that take advantage of improved methods.” Obviously the proof of that will come with the release of 2011 data, which will likely see the same trends which have established themselves continuing in many cases, but may also reflect the resurgence of particular states which have taken steps to curtail government spending and focus on job creation through retaining and attracting businesses by making themselves over: in particular Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. All of those states replaced Democratic governors with Republicans.

Although there’s no guarantee Maryland would greatly improve simply by replacing Martin O’Malley with a Republican like (in alphabetical order, not necessarily order of preference) David Craig, Charles Lollar, or Blaine Young, we could perhaps at least slow things down to avoid a further train wreck. Now if the Republicans pick up 28 seats in the Maryland House of Delegates and an even dozen in the Maryland Senate – admittedly a Herculean task at the very least – then we may start to reverse the slide. I can think of a few dozen Democrats who richly deserve to be thrown out on their collective rears; unfortunately they’re in relatively safe districts because the sheeple there prefer to vote against their best interests.

But keeping that IRS data stream going can help us state our case. Let’s see how they respond now that the pressure’s been put on.


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