Drew Carlson

New York State Is Hunting Down Fleeing Taxpayers

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Tuesday, September 21st, 2021, 11:30 AM PERMALINK

They can’t be bargained with, they can’t be reasoned with, they don’t feel pity or remorse or fear, and they will not stop ever until they have your tax dollars… No, we’re not talking about the Terminator, but the New York Tax and Finance Department.  

This year up to 149,000 former New York residents have received notices from the New York Tax and Finance Department asking them to provide proof of residence and personal income allocation, to see if they owe the state more than they paid. “The state is being very aggressive in going after people who are claiming to have moved out of New York,” said Alan Goldenberg, a state and local tax principal at Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP.” 

This course of action isn’t just unusual for the sheer volume of letters, it is also unusual for the income bracket being targeted. “Normally, it would take $1 million a year in income to trigger heightened scrutiny, but many people who are earning far less are receiving letters.” Many of those receiving letters make only $100,000-$300,000 a year, much less than the usual recipient of these letters.  

The reason for this is that many people left New York during the pandemic lockdowns, trying to take their tax dollars with them. To recoup these losses, New York needs to force these people to continue paying taxes, hence the deluge of audits. 

Now, you may be wondering, how can this be legal? Doesn’t moving to another state mean you no longer owe taxes to your old one? The answer lies in the “convenience rule” for telecommuting, in which “New York state taxes the money that nonresident workers draw from in-state sources, including the income that commuters make when they choose to work from home.”  

The only ways for workers in the other states to avoid this rule is to either to prove they worked remotely out of necessity (which seems feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic), rather than convenience, or prove that their employer established an office in that state.” Recently New Hampshire sued Massachusetts over that state’s collection of tax dollars from remote workers who were no longer commuting into the Boston area, but the Supreme Court rejected it, while “federal courts have ruled that states can tax nonresidents’ income when employees have a substantial link to the state doing the taxing.” 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, to even prove they are nonresidents, former New Yorkers must prove five things: "The amount of time spent, the size and value of their homes, the location of valuable items like heirlooms or wedding photographs, the location of an active business, and lastly, where your family lives.” In the meantime, “The burden of proving where you were falls on you,” Chernick said. “If you can’t prove a date where you were, then the state is going to allocate that data to New York.” If they can’t prove these things, they will be taxed as if they were still living in New York. 

The state’s tax agents are some of the most aggressive in the nation. They will check refrigerator contents, which doctors you go to, and where your pets are located. 

New York was overtaxed and overregulated before the pandemic, but the lockdowns turned conditions from annoying to unbearable for many people. They can leave, but they can’t check out without a fight. 

Photo Credit: "Queensboro Bridge New York October 2016 003.jpg" by King of Hearts is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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More States Are Reducing Barriers To Employment

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021, 12:31 PM PERMALINK

Over the past two years, lawmakers in various state capitals have enacted a new reform that will make occupational licensing requirements less of a barrier to employment. This new reform is known as universal license recognition (ULR). Arizona began this reform movement when it passed its ULR law in 2019. As of now, at least sixteen states have enacted it, the most recent being Mississippi in March (while four of these 16 laws had been on the books prior to 2019, this reform movement took off in earnest after the passage of the Arizona bill in 2019).  

What are ULR laws?  They are laws by which states recognize occupational licenses granted by other states. This means that if a worker in a licensed occupation moves to a new state that has passed universal recognition legislation, they can get to work right away. This gives workers greater flexibility and makes states with a ULR law more attractive to new residents.   

ULR laws in various states tend to be similar, but not identical. According to Iris Hentze at the National Conference of State Legislatures, two of the most common requirements for recognition are “being licensed and in good standing with your home licensing board” and that the applicants “pay applicable fees and...undergo background checks.” While workers will need to eventually get a new license for the state they’ve moved to, in the 16 states with ULR laws “the process is shorter for licensed workers than it is for those seeking a license for the first time.” 

One of the most significant differences between different ULR laws is whether they require “substantial equivalence” or “scope of practice” for recognition. According to Hentze at NCSL, states using “substantial equivalence” require that “that the license an applicant holds in his or her home jurisdiction be substantially equivalent to or exceed its own requirements” to have their license recognized in their new state of residence.  

States using “scope of practice” on the other hand require the applicant to be “currently licensed or certified by another state to work in an occupation with a similar scope of practice”. According to the America Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), scope of practice is “a more direct comparison of whether a license is to perform the same day-to-day duties of the job itself.” 

According to the Goldwater Institute, since “Arizona became the first state to enact universal recognition,” it has so far helped 3,000 professionals get to work in Arizona.  

The push for universal license recognition was further spurred on when the COVID-19 pandemic showed how licensing requirements stifle worker mobility, particularly when additional healthcare workers were needed in some states more than others. According to ALEC, to meet demand “states like New York...issued temporary executive orders recognizing licenses for out-of-state healthcare workers.”  

Since then, several more states have passed Universal Recognition laws, bringing the total to sixteen. Lawmakers in other states have introduced ULR that did not pass in 2021, but can be considered in future legislative session. According to the Goldwater Institute’s Heather Curry, “this session, more than 15 states have introduced legislation to extend out-of-state license recognition to skilled professionals.” 

In a few short years, we’ve gone from zero to 16 states with ULR laws, four of them enacted in 2021 alone, with still more debating similar measures. This idea is catching on, as more and more states realize that letting workers do their jobs with minimal hindrance brings plenty of benefits and few, if any, costs. 

Photo Credit: "Utility Worker" by Dori is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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State of State Governments: How they compare in size, which are growing, and which are shrinking

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021, 1:50 PM PERMALINK

Today Americans for Tax Reform released an updated list of the 50 states ranked by the size of their state government, using state spending as a percentage of state GDP as the metric for comparison. The state spending data comes from the National Association of State Budget Officers’ annual state spending surveys and the state GDP figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  

In addition to looking at the size of all 50 state governments today, ATR examined how the sizes of all 50 state governments have changed over the past decade. 


Size of State Governments Today (2019) 

  1. West Virginia (24.81%) 
  2. Arkansas (21.83%) 
  3. Alaska (20.93%) 
  4. New Mexico (19.89%) 
  5. Vermont (19.58%) 
  6. Hawaii (18.94%) 
  7. Oregon (18.93%) 
  8. Mississippi (18.67%) 
  9. Kentucky (18.26%) 
  10. Rhode Island (18.14%) 
  11. Delaware (17.61%) 
  12. Wisconsin (16.31%) 
  13. Maine (14.99%) 
  14. Montana (14.97%) 
  15. Alabama (14.36%) 
  16. Connecticut (13.7%) 
  17. Iowa (13.51%) 
  18. Louisiana (13.44%) 
  19. Michigan (12.64%) 
  20. Pennsylvania (12.25%) 
  21. South Carolina (12.13%) 
  22. Maryland (12.06%) 
  23. Oklahoma (12.04%) 
  24. Colorado (12.01%) 
  25. Wyoming (12.01%) 
  26. Minnesota (11.98%) 
  27. Arizona (11.96%) 
  28. North Dakota (11.85%) 
  29. Ohio (11.54%) 
  30. New Jersey (11.53%) 
  31. Massachusetts (11.5%) 
  32. New York (11.46%) 
  33. Virginia (11.3%) 
  34. Idaho (11.24%) 
  35. California (10.73%) 
  36. Kansas (10.58%) 
  37. Nevada (10.46%) 
  38. Nebraska (10.31%) 
  39. Tennessee (10.3%) 
  40. Indiana (10.1%) 
  41. Georgia (9.85%) 
  42. Utah (9.84%) 
  43. North Carolina (9.61%) 
  44. South Dakota (9.44%) 
  45. Illinois (9.29%) 
  46. Washington (9.21%) 
  47. Missouri (9.18%) 
  48. Florida (8.57%) 
  49. New Hampshire (8.1%) 
  50. Texas (6.86%) 


Fastest Growing State Governments of the Last 5 years: 

  1. Nevada (43.7%) 
  2. Pennsylvania (19.81%) 
  3. Kentucky (18%) 
  4. Delaware (17.51%) 
  5. Indiana (16.23%) 
  6. Connecticut (15.68%) 
  7. California (15.37%) 
  8. Louisiana (14.73%) 
  9. Iowa (14.57%) 
  10. New Jersey (13.71%) 


Fastest Shrinking State Governments of the Last 5 years: 

  1. Wyoming (-38.41%) 
  2. Arizona (-8.73%) 
  3. Massachusetts (-7.3%) 
  4. Texas (-7.19%) 
  5. Tennessee (-2.15%) 
  6. Alaska (-1.8%) 
  7. Maine (-0.95%) 
  8. Mississippi (0.57%) 
  9. Oklahoma (0.61%) 
  10. Idaho (0.95%) 


Fastest Growing State Governments of the Last 10 Years: 

  1. Connecticut (76.44%) 
  2. Nevada (40.01%) 
  3. Virginia (30.26%) 
  4. Alabama (30.13%) 
  5. Oregon (28.54%) 
  6. Kentucky (25.43%) 
  7. New Jersey (24.51%) 
  8. Rhode Island (23.88%) 
  9. Arkansas (23%) 
  10. Delaware (22.57%) 


Fastest Shrinking State Governments of the Last 10 years: 

  1. Wyoming (-25.09%) 
  2. West Virginia (-17.93%) 
  3. North Carolina (-13.17%) 
  4. Oklahoma (-11.29%) 
  5. Alaska (-6.98%) 
  6. Tennessee (-6.88%) 
  7. Texas (-5.53%) 
  8. Massachusetts (-3.49%) 
  9. South Carolina (-2.48%) 
  10. Maine (-1.68%) 

Photo Credit: Martin Falbisoner

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A New Vision for Virginia

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Tuesday, August 24th, 2021, 3:07 PM PERMALINK

Republican gubernatorial candidate and Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer Glenn Youngkin recently outlined his plan to provide relief to Virginia taxpayers. His plan includes lowering taxes, investing in students, and funding the police. 

Virginia’s taxes and fees have increased at twice the rate of GDP growth. Youngkin’s plan will reverse this unfortunate trend.  

First, Youngkin calls for Virginia to refund $1.5 billion tax dollars to taxpayers, or $300 per individual, and to suspend the recent gas tax increase for one year. Youngkin also supports small businesses and wants to protect them from over-taxation. To achieve this end, Youngkin calls for “fully funding the Virginia Unemployment Insurance Fund to prevent payroll taxes from increasing in 2022, providing a one-year tax holiday for small businesses on the first $250 thousand of income.”  

He also wants to invest $700 million toward bringing universal broadband to rural Virginia to bridge the digital divide and allow them access to the benefits broadband brings with it. 

Youngkin’s proposal would also work to fix Virginia's schools and help its students. To do this, Youngkin operates on a simple principle: Parents should have power over how their children get educated.  

 Youngkin would have Virginia “provide $500 per public school student in refunds to parents to invest in student educational recovery” after many students’ education suffered from the lockdowns last year. In addition, to give parents more choice, Youngkin would pilot 20 new charter schools. 

Youngkin believes supporting police and law enforcement is the answer to support public health and safety, not defunding them. “The Youngkin proposal would commit...$500 million to public safety and mental health.” In addition, to stop the wave of resignations and early retirement of police officers, Youngkin would offer a $5000 retention bonus for police officers over the next three years. He also calls for investing in better pay and better equipment for police and first responders.  

In contrast, Youngkin’s opponent Terry McAuliffe believes that the higher taxes should stay. He called Youngkin’s gas tax plan “ a "gimmick" that would "literally destroy Virginia.". In fact, as Governor,  McAuliffe proposed several new taxes including taxes on products like “real estate sales, hotel stays and wholesale gasoline”.  

Glenn Youngkin has a different vision of Virginia than his opponents. While free-spending candidates like Terry McAuliffe “live by the philosophy that government should decide all things” Youngkin believes the exact opposite, that government should take a step back and let the people choose for themselves how their money should be spent. As governor, he would be a strong ally to Virginian taxpayers. 

Photo Credit: Glenn Youngkin

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Washington State Rebels Against Income Taxes

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Thursday, August 19th, 2021, 12:54 PM PERMALINK

Washington State taxpayers have rejected income taxes whenever given the opportunity, yet the free-spending liberals at the State House keep trying. The state’s new capital gains income tax has come under new scrutiny for violating the Washington State Constitution. 

The most recent push for an income tax began 2019, when the Court of Appeals struck down the law forbidding local income taxes. This year the state legislature passed a 7% tax on capital gains income greater than $250,000.  Two lawsuits have been filed, one by the Freedom Foundation and the other by former state Attorney General Rob McKenna on behalf of the Washington Farm Bureau, demanding that the courts strike down this unconstitutional income tax . Douglas County Judge Brian Huber combined the two suits and heard preliminary arguments on them yesterday.  

Professor Scott Schumacher, a professor of Tax Law at UW, agrees with the assessment on the capital gains income tax, saying, “A capital gains tax is just a tax on certain type of income . . . To the extent this is an income tax, and I think it is, it’s going to be found unconstitutional.”   

The state Constitution bans graduated income taxes. This means that if the state were to pass an income tax, it would need to be leveled equally to all people, regardless of income. This is because “Washington’s state Supreme Court has consistently ruled that income is property (meaning you own it). This is why a graduated income tax has been prohibited without a constitutional amendment and a tax on income must conform with the constitutional restrictions on property taxes.” 

Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit. Municipalities have already started to fight back. Last week, Union Gap joined the cities of Battle Ground, Granger, Spokane, and Spokane Valley in voting to ban a local income tax. Both Union Gap and Battle Ground’s city councils were unanimous in their decision. In addition, Yakima City approved sending its voters a charter amendment to ban an income tax. “Both Yakima’s and Spokane’s City Charters also already include a supermajority requirement for the councils to impose or increase any taxes.”  

One of Washington State’s most competitive traits is that it has no income tax. This “has long been advertised by the State Department of Commerce as being a “competitive advantage” for Washington. State voters have also made it consistently clear they don’t want an income tax.” 

Six different ballot measures to change this by amending the state constitution have failed, in 1934, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1970 and 1973. Four ballot measures to introduce a state income tax also failed, in 1944, 1975, 1982 and 2010. Additionally, in 1984 Washington passed a law forbidding local income taxes.  

The Olympia establishment has made their intentions clear. They want an income tax in Washington. Voters and municipalities have repeatedly sent their reply: No.  

Washingtonians hate the income tax. Olympia would do well to listen to their people and end this pointless quest for higher taxes. If they don’t, they may find their own constituents turning against them. 

Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

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Cuomo's Long List of Scandals

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Friday, August 13th, 2021, 9:27 AM PERMALINK

This week, Andrew Cuomo’s star went down in flames. While the smoke clears, let’s take a moment to sit back and reminisce about the governor’s long history with ethical and legal violations.

Cuomo’s controversies regarding sexual harassment and nursing homes deaths were far from his first abuses of power. In fact, his administration has a long history of it, ranging from interfering with ethics commissions, to financial corruption.

In July 2013, Cuomo formed the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in New York’s government. At first it was a success, giving Cuomo good PR. Yet as it went on there were rumors that, contrary to his claim that “Anything they want to look at they can look at,” Cuomo was interfering with the Commission’s investigations. There was friction within the Commission, itself with two factions forming: “’Team Independence’ and ‘Team We-Have-a-Boss’.”

The Commission eventually implicated two Republicans who were allies of Cuomo. Soon after, Cuomo approved some ethics reforms and shut the Commission down. Cuomo responded to rumors of interference by saying “It’s my commission...I can appoint it, I can disband it. I appoint you, I can un-appoint you tomorrow...I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine.”

Another controversy of Cuomo’s regime was bid-rigging surrounding the “Buffalo Billion” and state economic development spending.

In 2018 New York authorized around $1 billion to go to economic development in Buffalo, NY. The man Cuomo picked to dole out the funds, Alain Kaloyeros, rigged the bidding of construction contracts to curry favor with Cuomo, arranging the first and second place bidders ahead of time. Also convicted in this scheme and sentenced to 6 years in prison was Cuomo’s childhood friend, Joe Percoco. Cuomo described Percoco as ‘like a brother’.

While the governor was not implicated in this, it does speak well of his management skills or Albany’s oversight of spending.

On top of this, Cuomo may have manipulated the state's bipartisan commission to investigate ethical violations in New York’s government, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).

As it turns out, after Cuomo’s book about leadership during COVID-19 was published, several members of the Commission accused him of interfering in its operations. The JCOPE commissioners did not approve the book. Their staff did. Afterwards several commissioners had trouble getting access to any information about the decision beyond Cuomo’s initial letter seeking approval and the staff’s letters granting it. Republican appointee Gary Lavine went so far as to say, “They have a cohort of ‘super-commissioners’ that are getting information that should be disseminated to all of us.” These accusations weren't new either. “Other legislatively appointed commissioners have made similar criticisms about Cuomo...Those criticisms date back to 2012, a year after the body was formed.”

With an ethics commission where the Governor appoints the majority of commissioners, this probably should not be that shocking.

Albany crookedness isn’t new. Multiple legislators were convicted of corruption-related offenses during Cuomo’s terms. Many Americans are hearing about Cuomo's issues now that he finally got burned, but make no mistake, there has been plenty of smoke and fire surrounding his administration for years.

Photo Credit: Diana Robinson

Bring Home the Bacon? Not in California You Won’t

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Posted by Drew Carlson on Wednesday, August 4th, 2021, 1:17 PM PERMALINK

The Californian government has made many mistakes over the last several years. It overtaxed its people, allowed homelessness to overrun its cities, and crippled its economy with crushing lockdowns, but this time it’s gone too far: 

It came for people’s bacon. 

On January 1, California will begin enforcing an animal welfare law passed by voters in 2018 that requires more space for breeding pigs, along with egg-laying chickens and veal calves. 

While veal and egg producers believe they can meet the new standards, only 4% of hog operations meet them. This means that unless the state allows non-compliant meat to be sold, California projects to lose almost half of its pork supply.  A Hatmiya Group study estimated that it could make pork prices soar. In fact, “the price of bacon could rocket up by 60 percent.” 

So much for “bringing home the bacon”. 

This is yet another blow for many restaurants across the state recovering from lockdowns, since bacon is a very popular food item. “Our number one seller is bacon, eggs and hash browns,” said Jeannie Kim, who for 15 years has run SAMS American Eatery on San Francisco's busy Market Street. “It could be devastating for us.”  

Even worse, many did not even realize this would be happening. “KPIX-5 called dozens of restaurants, stores and meat markets Monday and very few were aware of what may be coming. That included Concord caterer Rogie Purificacion, who said pork is a staple in Hispanic and Asian cooking.”  

Another Californian, Jenny Flannagan, remembered the “chicken law” but didn’t realize it would affect bacon as well. “It’s kind of sad. It would be nice to know what we were voting for,” she said. “I don’t think anybody knows about this.” 

With less than half a year left until the law takes effect, it is very unlikely that the pork industry will manage to adapt in time. California consumes around 15% of pork produced in the country. The pork industry has filed multiple lawsuits to stop this law, but so far, the Courts have favored California. The National Pork Producer Council, alongside restaurants and other business groups, has asked Governor Newsom to delay the requirements.  

Over the last two years California has passed regulations that have crushed freelancers’ ability to operate, created diversity quotas for corporate boards, used taxpayer dollars to create a task force on reparations, and passed even more laws to limit its citizens’ ability to obtain a legal firearm. 

Should this pork law take effect in January, the good people of California have the perfect chance to show us what they value more: Onerous, overbearing business regulations or their bacon. 

Photo Credit: Anggun Tan

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