In the first few months after the new federal tax law went into effect, Florida saw jumps in new residents moving from Connecticut and Massachusetts.
There were smaller year-over-year increases in new Florida residents from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but no jump from New York — traditionally the biggest source of new Floridians.
New figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau offer a glimpse of the impact of the 2017 tax law on U.S. migration patterns from high-tax northeastern states to Florida, which doesn’t have a state income tax and has comparatively low property taxes.
Whether the tax law got people to move to Florida is still open to debate. The figures track migration from July 2017 to July 2018 and capture the first few months after the tax law took effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Florida’s most famous new resident isn’t included since President Donald Trump, an ex-New Yorker, only recently made Palm Beach, Florida, his permanent home.
The federal tax law, which has become a political football between Republican and Democratic politicians, put a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions and instituted a $750,000 limit on the amount of mortgage debt that could be written off.
New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have among the nation’s highest state and local property-tax collections per capita, according to The Tax Foundation, a tax policy research group.
But the year-to-year jump in New Englanders may have more to do with Baby Boomers retiring than a change in the tax law, said Susan Strate, senior manager of Population Estimates Program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.
The biggest age groups represented by the New England migrants were just past the retirement age of 65 or were approaching retirement age. The biggest age group represented among the former New Yorkers was early 30s, according to Strate’s analysis.
“Over these years, we can expect to see increasing migration from those states that send more retirees, versus young people, to Florida, including many of the typical ‘snowbird’ New England states,” Strate said.
Last year, 63,000 New Yorkers became Florida residents, unchanged from the previous year. More than 18,000 new Floridians came from Connecticut, compared to almost 11,250 in 2017. More than 20,300 residents from Massachusetts came to Florida last year, compared to more than 18,200 former Bay Staters in 2017.
University of Florida demographer Stefan Rayer said numbers may fluctuate year-to-year, but overall the source of new Florida residents remains unchanged. He noted a significant jump in Puerto Ricans moving to Florida after Hurricane Maria in 2017, from under 29,000 islanders in 2017 to nearly 45,000 islanders in 2018.
The tax law has been a political hot button for Florida politicians and their counterparts in northeastern states.
“America is a marketplace where states are competing with each other, and New York is losing,” Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, Florida’s previous governor, wrote in March in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo punched back in another Journal op-ed.
The goal of the tax law, pushed by President Donald Trump and passed by Republican majorities in Congress, was “to weaponize the federal tax system against predominantly Democratic states,” he said.