Wednesday, September 18, 2013 p
Why are they leaving?
My Aug. 23 column “Taxpayers Exiting Maryland” drew some heated responses from readers believing factors other than taxes and cost of living are causing the exoduses. Bill Nickerson of Silver Spring pointed out that warm-weather states are the top “winner states” in the taxpayer migration derby, “So are more people moving to Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia for better weather, or for lower taxes and more Republicans?” Mike McCracken of Bethesda believes that routine turnover in Congress and the administration as well as outmigration of students and government workers hired to better-paying jobs are major causes, not taxes. According totheIRS,1,335,104 U.S. citizens MY MARYLAND moved into BLAIR LEE Maryland from other states between 2000 and 2010 while 1,401,377 Maryland citizens moved away, a net loss of 66,273 people (only nine states lost more people). Unfortunately, the move-aways took their income with them, a net taxable income loss of $5.5 billion which, if taxed at 7 percent, is an annual $385 million revenue loss to Maryland and its local governments. Yes, many factors cause people to move: climate, housing costs, jobs, retirement, schools, health, crime and so on. But taxes are at the top of the list and inﬂuence the other factors. For instance, many Marylanders move to adjoining states seeking less-expensive home prices. But Maryland’s high housing costs are largely due to taxes, fees and environmental regulations that drive up construction costs and closing costs. Likewise, retirement relocations are greatly driven by taxes. Gazette staff writer Kevin Shay wrote a follow-up story conﬁrming that high taxes are chasing away Marylanders. “Real estate agents I’ve talked with say the exodus from Maryland
is astonishing,” said Constance Khim, who relocated to Florida in May. And Julie Ann Garber, an estate attorney who also migrated to Florida, said, “My ﬁrm has worked with many clients who have changed their domicile from Maryland, New York and other states to minimize their income tax bills and/or estate tax bills.” The IRS data doesn’t lie. Look at the top seven “winner states” that drained off the most Marylanders between 2000 and 2010. I’ll grant you that many or most of the 80,376 net population loss to Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina was due to retirement, although many Marylanders are avoiding income taxes by establishing Florida residency. That way a $500,000 income earner can save more than $42,500 a year in income taxes. But how do you explain the net loss of 88,762 Marylanders to the adjoining states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and West Virginia? Did they really move across the border for the weather? Former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich recently was contacted by a Pennsylvania congressional candidate asking Ehrlich to campaign with him in York, Pa. Why? Because, he explained, so many Pennsylvania voters are former Marylanders that know Ehrlich better than any Pennsylvania politicians. I’m amazed at how many letters and emails I receive from readers who are either moving away or glad they did. And here’s what they say: David Winkler, La Plata: “I used to enjoy the idea that my family was growing up with family and friends who have remained for several generations around Charles County. Sadly, I told them it is not a matter of IF I move, but WHEN. Every time I pick up a newspaper I hear of a new fee or tax from the state. My wife and kids can’t afford to live in Maryland any longer.” David Lindoerfer, Silver Spring:
“I own a small business with 45 employees, I am 60 years old and always planned on buying land here and retiring here. NOT. I’m getting outta Dodge and I hear the exact same thing from every friend of my age group.” May Post, Rockville: “The proposed increase in the income tax
rate (from 4.75 to 5 percent) may not seem like much to some people, but for those of us who barely make it into the six-ﬁgure category, boosting taxes is worrisome. It’s time to leave Maryland.” Barry Siegle, Ellicott City: “The rain tax is a frigging crime and another way to tax the people to death. I will be looking for a way to move outta this frigging state.” Harry O’Sullivan, Sykesville: “This news makes me want to leave the state. I’m retired, 67 years old, have paid for a home in Sykesville on 1 acre. We love this area, but how much can we take living on ﬁxed income?” David Eastman, Pawleys Island:
“I owned some land in Bishopsville, Md., where I was going to retire but I just could not stomach the high taxes and regulations in Maryland so I sold my land and bought my Pawley’s Island, S.C., home. (My property taxes are $600 a year and I pay very little in state income taxes).” Jackie
“Could you please get me a list of the tax increases that O’Malley has enacted? I want to pass it to my liberal friends who just bought two homes in Florida and are leaving Maryland due to high taxes.” Lee Trunnell, Rockville: “As a lifelong Marylander, except for four years in the Navy, I am ready to pack up and leave and my wife is ready to move, too. Probably to Virginia.” Todd Johnson: “My family have been in Maryland since the 1600s. If I could sell my house for as much or more than I paid, I would move to Northern Virginia tomorrow.” Raymond Lombardo, Rockville:
“Yesterday my wife was at lunch at her law ﬁrm during a presentation on various new Maryland laws. At the end of the presentation, the partner making it said, ‘And we wonder why so many of our clients are moving to Virginia?’” Anecdotal evidence? Yes, but ignore at your own risk. Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in the Business Gazette. His past columns are available at www.gazette.net/ blairlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A college program to help new Americans A world-renowned singer from Ethiopia forced to leave her country due to persecution and fear of imprisonment or death; a single father from Sierra Leone trying to escape famine and war and keep his children alive after the execution of his wife; two inseparable sisters from Iran determined not to become victims of a dictator’s regime. Their stories are only a few of the many students who participate in the citizenship program of Montgomery College to become naturalized U.S. citizens. On Tuesday, our country celebrated Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. During Constitution Week, Sept. 16-23, thousands will become citizens at naturalization ceremonies and vow to support and defend the Constitution. They’ll recite the Pledge of Allegiance and wave the American ﬂag. It’s a joyous event to witness because, for new citizens, getting to this milestone takes hard work and preparation. At Montgomery College, we provide lawful permanent residents the support they need on their paths to citizenship. It is a privilege to work with these aspiring citizens, and we now have an even greater ability to assist those in our community through a grant from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. We are one of 40 organizations across the country to receive this grant, totaling approximately $250,000 for the next two years. The college’s citizenship program, with legal services provided by Catholic Charities of Washington, proposes to serve 600 legal permanent residents,
with low to intermediate levels of English language skills. The new funding award allows the college to continue to provide innovative learning opportunities for students to access civic and citizenship engagement experiences outside the classroom. Students volunteer in the community, visit local historical sites and attend public meetings. Providing these options gives students the opportunity to connect English to their daily lives. This is the fifth year USCIS has awarded grants to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services, and the fourth year of funding for Montgomery College. With this grant, our efforts will have a greater impact, helping even more immigrants improve their English language skills, learn about history and government and the rights and responsibilities that deﬁne citizenship. With civic integration comes participation — in service groups, school boards, and many other worthy causes. This citizen-driven participation is a hallmark of what makes this country great. At Montgomery College, we are proud to be a part of a process that is vital to our country and our community, and look forward to serving 600 legal permanent residents as they pursue their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens.
Nancy Newton, Silver Spring The writer is special programs director/ citizenship program director at Montgomery College.
Praise for Blair Lee It has been a distinct pleasure reading the many letters protesting Blair Lee’s oped column. One can practically hear the politically correct crowd choking and sputtering with righteous indignation as Mr. Lee skewers the liberal orthodoxy again and again. Many of your readers are simply unable to accept Mr. Lee’s critique of what passes for accepted truth, nor can they forgive his exposes of blatant manipulation of the political process by the same folks that they vote for year in, year out.
One reader complained that it is hard to believe that running Mr. Lee’s column comports with the philosophy of your bosses at Post-Newsweek Media. I concur, and compliment you in the highest terms for your courage in allowing Mr. Lee to repeatedly challenge the conventional wisdom. Mr. Lee, please keep giving us your fresh insights and offering us an alternative to mainstream groupthink. Your column is a breath of fresh air.
Barry Miller, Bethesda
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