A record high number of federal income tax filers and their dependents moved from New York to other states from 2019 to 2020, and the average incomes of Empire State out-migrants topped $100,000 for the first time, according to newly released migration data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Scroll to bottom of post for interactive taxpayer migration map.

The IRS tracked 477,131 Form 1040 income tax filers and their dependents moving from New York to other states in 2019-20, partially offset by 228,826 filers and dependents who moved into New York from elsewhere in the same period. The state’s net loss came to 248,305 filers and dependents, which was significantly higher than the average annual net migration from New York as tallied by the current version of the IRS migration data series since 2011-12. Roughly two-thirds of the net taxpayer migrants to other states came from New York City; as shown below, the leading destination of the city’s out-migrants was New Jersey.

New Yorkers moving to other states during the period reported average adjusted gross incomes of $114,360—an increase of 19 percent from the previous year’s average out-migrant income of $96,104, and the largest single annual increase in average out-migrant incomes since the current IRS migration data series. Tax filers moving into New York in 2019-20 reported average incomes of $83,507, which was a slight decrease from the 2018-19 in-migrant average income of $85,579. (In both cases, those figures reflect income earned in 2019.)

California, Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey were the only other states whose outbound tax filers had average six-figure incomes in 2019, and only Connecticut’s average out-migrant income ($117,558) was higher than the average for New Yorkers moving to other states.

High-income movers

Adding more evidence that New York has been shedding higher earners, in particular, the Empire State also stood out in the proportion of out-migrants reporting 2019 incomes of $200,000 or more, the highest income category broken out in the IRS migration data. Filers in this category were 10.7 percent of all outbound New Yorkers, which was the highest proportion among all states. Close behind were Connecticut (10.4 percent), New Jersey (10.3 percent), and California (10.1 percent) the only other states, above 10 percent by this measure. The average incomes of high-income New Yorkers leaving the state was $554,739, exceeded in that category only by out-migrants from Connecticut ($681,832) and Illinois ($567,903). In the nation as a whole, filers with incomes of $200,000 or more made up 6.5 percent of taxpayer migrant outflow, and their average income in this category was $409,506.

The IRS data are consistent with Census Bureau estimates showing that New York lost 203,893 residents to net out-migration to other states during the 12 months ending July 1, 2020. The figures are different because two datasets cover different periods, and the more-inclusive Census Bureau estimates include migrants not counted in the IRS data, such as joint-filing couples who divorce, young adults no longer counted as their parents’ dependents in the second year, and individuals (mainly seniors) who didn’t file tax returns in one or both years. In addition, the IRS data reflect addresses listed on tax returns, which sometimes are the office of a tax preparer or some other address that was not actually the filer’s residence at the beginning or end of the period.

Garden State gains

The leading destination state for New York out-migrants between the 2019 and 2020 tax filing seasons was New Jersey, which gained a net 47,398 New York migrants, followed closely by Florida with 44,943, Connecticut with 20,395, Pennsylvania with 19,196, and North Carolina with 16,143. This five states combined gained 60 percent of New York’s net taxpayer outflow during the period.  The only state without a net gain from New York was Alaska, which lost a net 17 taxpayers and their dependents to the Empire State.

The highest-earning out-migrants from New York were those bound for Wyoming, which drew 431 tax filers and dependents whose incomes averaged a whopping $654,572 a year.  Among the states drawing the most people from the Empire State, the average income of New York migrants averaged $176,682 in Connecticut, $156,056 in Florida, and $114,025 in New Jersey.

Top-line values for tax filer flows in and out of New York are broken down on state, county and regional levels in the map below.

This blog post corrects numeral transposition errors in data calculations that resulted in erroneous migration flow estimates for a handful of states. 

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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