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40,000 Atlases

Posted by Richard on February 20, 2009

In 2003, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed concerns that the city's taxes were too high, blithely declaring that New York was a "luxury product" that people gladly paid more for. But now the liberal mayor is singing a different tune. The combined state and local income tax rate already goes over 10%, well above surrounding states. Lawmakers in both Albany and NYC are talking about further increases.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg is now sounding like their editorial page regarding tax rates and incentives:

But late last week Mayor Bloomberg was channelling these columns when he said that raising taxes on high earners could drive them from the city. "One percent of the households that file in this city pay something like 50% of the taxes," explained the Mayor. "In the city, that's something like 40,000 people. If a handful left, any raise would make it revenue neutral. The question is what's fair. If 1% are paying 50% of the taxes, you want to make it even more?"

I found Bloomberg's numbers rather stunning. They aren't that far above the national level — the top 1% pay 40% of federal personal income taxes — but the enormity of it seems more concrete and real when you bring the scale down to just New York City, and suddenly "the rich" who bear the burden goes from a nebulous abstraction to just 40,000 people.

It's hard to leave the country to escape an unfair tax burden (they still come after you unless you renounce your citizenship, and they confiscate part of your wealth if you do that). But it's pretty easy to move out of New York. Connecticut isn't far. I can understand why even the very liberal Bloomberg is opposed to more tax increases.

A city of 8 million is being carried on the shoulders of 40,000 Atlases. If even a few thousand of them shrug …

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