Raising taxes on the rich won't cause them to flee

August 29, 2011

Brian Murphy suggests that if the super-rich were taxed more heavily they would move away ("Warren Buffett is wrong," Aug. 25). I don't believe that. California has higher taxes than Oklahoma, yet the super-rich still prefer California to Oklahoma.

Second, moving from Maryland to Delaware is one thing, but moving to Haiti to avoid federal taxes — the country has the lowest tax take in the Western hemisphere — is another thing altogether. There is simply no data to back up the theory that the rich will flee if the United States it raises taxes on the wealthy and super-wealthy a little more.

That theory has been tested by political scientists the world over and it simply doesn't bear out. Here are the numbers:

The total U.S. tax take as a percentage of GDP is about 25 percent. The second-lowest tax take in the developed world is 30 percent. In other words, we are the lowest taxed citizens in the developed world by a margin of some 5 percent.

Even if we only raised taxes by 4 percent, we would raise an extra $520 billion — a huge down payment on balancing the budget. And we'd still be the lowest-taxed developed country in the world.

Thomas Jandl, Towson

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