The outflow of New York taxpayers to the rest of the country subsided from the previous year’s record high during the second tax-filing period following the March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, according to the latest migration data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Scroll to the bottom for interactive taxpayer migration map.

IRS data are based on a comparison of mailing addresses reported on Form 1040 income tax returns filed by the same individuals and joint-filing couples in both 2021 and 2022, based on income in the prior calendar years. Included in the count are all returns filed for those respective years between the last week of January and late September in 2021 and 2022.

Key trends documented by the IRS data include the following:

  • A total of 476,051 New York filers and their dependents moved to other states between 2021 and 2022, a slight drop of 2 percent from the previous year’s out-migation total. This was partially offset by the 253,349 filers and dependents who moved into New York from other states in the same period—a sharp increase of nearly 13 percent from the 2020-21 inflow, which may suggest that some of the previous year’s moves out of New York were temporary.
  • New York’s net loss to other states came to 222,702 filers and dependents—down about 10 percent from the previous year’s record outflow of 248,305 people but still high by longer-term historical standards. Among 26 states experiencing net outflows of filers and dependents in 2021-22, only California had a bigger loss (302,543), and New York’s net out-migration was more than two-and-a-half times that of the state with the third biggest loss, Illinois (105,109).
  • More than 91 percent of New York’s net taxpayer outflow to other states was from New York City, Long Island, and four lower Hudson Valley counties (Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Dutchess).
  • The average 2021 adjusted gross income of New York filers moving to other states was $126,665—slightly below the previous year’s record of $130,054 but well above the averages from 2011 to 2020. Tax filers moving into New York in 2021-22 reported average 2021 incomes of $124,391, a significant increase of 38 percent from the average incomes of taxpayers moving to New York in 2020-21. One possible explanation for this would be a post-pandemic rebound driven by upper-income New Yorkers who had temporarily relocated but moved back to the state after COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted.
  • California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey were the only other states whose outbound tax filers had average incomes exceeding those of New York out-migrants in 2021-22.
  • The leading destination for outbound New Yorkers was Florida, which gained a net 60,210 residents from New York, accounting for nearly 28 percent of the Empire State’s total net outflow. The next-largest outflows were 43,274 to New Jersey, 18,570 to Pennsylvania, 16,971 to Connecticut, and 16,925 to North Carolina. New York had a net gain of 157 filers and dependents from only one state, Illinois. It also gained 225 filers and dependents from the District of Columbia.
  • The average income of all New Yorkers moving to Florida was $182,895—below the prior-year record but still the second-highest level ever for migrants to the Sunshine State.  Notably and atypically, however, the average income of Florida residents moving to New York was slightly higher at $187,782, nearly three times the $67,652 average of New York-bound Floridians in 2020-21—a further indication that the Florida-to-New York number included high earners who had only temporarily relocated.
  • Among New Yorkers’ other top destination states, the average incomes of migrants from New York were $184,529 in Connecticut, $126,326 in New Jersey, $78,916 in Pennsylvania, and $79,532 in North Carolina.

As shown below, the average incomes of Florida-bound New Yorkers roughly matched the total for all destination states in 2011-12 but increased dramatically in the next 10 years—doubling even before the pandemic prompted a greater outflow of higher earners.

High-income movers

The Empire State also stood out in the proportion of outbound taxpayers reporting 2021 incomes of $200,000 or more, the highest of seven income categories reported in the IRS migration data. Filers in the $200,000-and-up bracket were 10.5 percent of all outbound New Yorkers. Only California (12.3 percent), New Jersey (12.1 percent), Connecticut (11.4 percent), and Washington state (11 percent) had larger relative outflows of high earners.

The average 2021 income of the 31,485 top-bracket New York households leaving the state was $713,310, exceeded only in the outflows of four states. In the nation as a whole, filers with incomes of $200,000 or more made up 8 percent of total interstate moves, and their average income in this category was $615,326.

The IRS data are consistent with Census Bureau estimates showing that New York lost 298,341 residents to net out-migration to other states during the 12 months ending July 1, 2022. The figures are different because the two datasets cover different periods, since the IRS data come from individual income tax returns filed before late September of each calendar year, which represent between 95 and 98 percent of total annual filings. In addition, the more inclusive Census Bureau estimates include interstate migrants not counted in the IRS data, such as joint-filing couples who divorce, young adults no longer counted as dependents in the second year, and individuals (mainly seniors) who didn’t file tax returns in one or both years.

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.

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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