Taxes Not Popular in Pennsylvania

Shocker! (Not really). A new Gallup poll finds that the majority of Pennsylvanians—58 percent—think state taxes are too high.

Pennsylvania’s polling falls right in line based on our tax burden. Pennsylvanians pay $4,374 in state and local taxes per person, or 10.3 percent of income, ranking 10th highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.

Of course, some of our neighbors—New York, New Jersey, and Maryland—have a higher tax burden. Not coincidently, more voters in those states (77 percent in New York and New Jersey, and 67 percent in Maryland) feel their taxes are too high.

So what? 

Well, people move with their feet—and Pennsylvania certainly benefits from having high tax neighbors. IRS data shows that from 1993-2010 the Keystone State gained 104,000 taxpayers on net—and a whopping $7.9 billion in net income—in moves from New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Unfortunately, we lost almost 310,000 taxpayers in net migration to the other 47 states (and D.C.) in that time. The cost: $18.7 billion in net income lost to those states via migration.

Lawmakers should worry that Pennsylvania voters think taxes are too high, because they tend to move to states with better tax climates, taking their money with them and leaving the rest of us poorer.