Maryland couldn’t balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O’Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were “willing and able to pay their fair share.” The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would “grin and bear it.”
One year later, nobody’s grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller’s office concedes is a “substantial decline.” On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year — even at higher rates.
Soak the middle class, next.
The refusal of fans of progressive taxation to understand that there’s a direct correlation between how much people hate progressive taxes and how much they suffer from them – and that people reserve the right to either stop being so productive, or just simply go somewhere else – would be sad, except that too many of said fans have a say in crafting fiscal policy. This is really kitchen economics: if there’s not enough money, stop spending it until there is. Even if it’d be really, really great if [Insert Feel-Good Initiative Here] was done.