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The Effect of State Taxes on the Geographical Location of Top Earners: Evidence from Star Scientists

Mar 2016
Working Paper
16-008
By  Enrico Moretti, Daniel Wilson

We quantify how sensitive is migration by star scientist to changes in personal and business tax differentials across states. We uncover large, stable, and precisely estimated effects of personal and corporate taxes on star scientists’ migration patterns. The long run elasticity of mobility relative to taxes is 1.8 for personal income taxes, 1.9 for state corporate income tax and -1.7 for the investment tax credit. While there are many other factors that drive when innovative individual and innovative companies decide to locate, there are enough firms and workers on the margin that state taxes matter.