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Wealthy Californians are leaving the state and taking tax revenue with them: study

For the third straight year, the state of California has experienced a decline in population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, and many of those packing up and heading west are some of the state’s wealthiest.

A study of IRS Migration Data by an online real estate portal found that no state experienced a larger loss of tax income from migration than California.

The study, conducted by, found that California lost more than $340 million in 2021 IRS tax revenue due to residents moving.

While about 40% of Californians have previously indicated that they had “seriously considered” leaving the Golden State, mainly due to cost of living, the migration of high-earners from California is a bit more mysterious.

“Despite its numerous attractions … beautiful landscapes and cultural richness, California’s high personal income tax rates seem discouraging for many high-wealth individuals. This, coupled with the state’s high cost of living, will likely fuel a wealth migration out of California,” the website wrote in its analysis.

California is the entertainment capital of the world as well as home to Silicon Valley, but it appears some of the highest earners no longer need to keep their California residency to maintain their careers and businesses.

Technology firebrand Elon Musk, at one point the richest man in the world, made a highly publicized move from California to Texas last year. Entertainers like Joe Rogan and Rob Schneider, who have been openly critical about the politics of the state, have recently packed up and moved to different states.

Earlier this year, actor Scott Baio announced he was moving to Florida after 45 years as a California resident.

Florida was the big winner in IRS tax income from migration, the study found. The Sunshine State experienced a $12.4 billion increase in tax revenue, according to the real estate study.

Florida, Texas and Arizona were the states getting the most IRS tax benefit from migration. California, New York and Illinois were the three biggest losers.

Below are the states that experienced the biggest increases and decreases in IRS tax revenue linked to migration:

States With the Largest Net Positive Tax Income Migration

Ranking State Net Income Migration
1 Florida $12.4 billion
2 Texas $10.7 billion
3 Arizona $9.4 billion
4 Colorado $8.6 billion
5 North Carolina $7.8 billion
6 South Carolina $7.2 billion
7 Tennessee $6.9 billion
8 Utah $6.7 billion
9 Georgia $6.6 billion

States With the Largest Net Negative Tax Income Migration

Ranking State Net Income Migration
1 California -$343.2 million
2 New York -$299.6 million
3 Illinois -$141.7 million
4 New Jersey -$135 million
5 Massachusetts -$129 million
6 Ohio -$122 million
7 Pennsylvania -$119 million
8 Michigan -$117 million
9 Indiana -$115 million

The study analyzed the most-recent data available from the IRS, which accounted for the 2021 tax year. Data from the IRS regarding the 2022 tax year will likely be released some time this year.

For more on the study, including a full breakdown of the methodology used by the research team, click here.

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