Scholar's Research Proves Critical in Push for NY Millionaires Tax

Earlier this month, New York State legislators followed New Jersey by increasing income taxes on New York City's millionaires. The new law will generate billions of dollars in revenue to help the state recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and years of budget cuts. 

One of the major arguments against the tax was the idea that high-income earners would leave the state — an argument that SSN member Cristobal Young debunks in his book, The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight: How Place Still Matters for the Rich. Based on an analysis of a dozen years of tax returns for 3.7 million Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, Young found that 0.3% of the total moved to lower-tax states.

Last fall, Executive Director Michael Kink of Strong Economy for All, one of the civic organizations leading the effort, reached out to SSN looking for a scholar who could push back on these claims. SSN connected them with Young. Kink notes:

"We had a successful effort on taxes and the budget this year, and the help from SSN and Young, who did a bunch of press work and wrote a nicely-timed op-ed in the New York Daily News, was essential."

The campaign to raise taxes on the city's wealthiest residents was detailed in the HuffPost, noting that "when it came to rebutting claims that tax hikes would prompt a mass exodus from New York, the research of Cornell University sociologist Cristobal Young...proved critical."

On Twitter, Young underscored the critical role that research can play in informing policy. He also gave a shout-out to the many other individuals and organizations who collaborated on achieving this significant policy change.

Cornell University

"Sociological research can change public policy. I've spent 10 years challenging the claim that taxes make rich people leave  it's simply not true. Yesterday, NY passed a millionaires tax. It raises billions for the city and state, driving a new phase of the recovery.