The biggest news in sports Thursday night was that basketball star LeBron James chose to come play in Florida for the Miami Heat rather than stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He may have had many reasons – sunny weather, the nightlife of South Beach, etc. – to come to Miami, but there is another reason that makes moving to Florida a rational decision not just for a basketball superstar, but for anyone who works hard and wants to keep the fruits of his labors.
Florida has no state or local income tax. Ohio, on the other hand has both state and local taxes on income. Other celebrities like Tiger Woods and Rush Limbaugh have chosen to move to Florida. Limbaugh, a Florida resident since the late 1990s, makes no secret of the fact that New York’s excessive tax burden was an important factor for his move.
For decades, many Ohioans have moved to Florida. Even in recent years, when Florida was disproportionally affected by the subprime mortgage crisis, Florida remained the top destination of emigrants from Ohio.
States with high tax burdens like New York, New Jersey and California are facing fiscal crisis because of their disproportional dependence on high income earners for tax revenue and the ability of their wealthiest residents to flee from these states to low-tax states like Florida and Texas.
Cleveland should not put its hopes for an economic revival on the presence of a basketball star. It would be better off focusing on slashing its excessive government burden and creating a more welcoming economic climate for attracting capital and getting wealthy individuals to stay.
We welcome LeBron James to Florida and hope that the people of Ohio will learn from their loss and work to change their state and local governments and their excessive appetite for taxing the creators of wealth.