Conservative media outlets have spent the last 24 hours trying to make Phil Mickelson the poster child for the push back against high taxes, only to see their golden goose disappear when Mickelson apologized for his remarks.
The ultimate payoff for these outlets would be for Mickelson to hold a LeBron James-like hour long special on ESPN to declare that thanks to the oppressive tax rates in California he is taking his talents to South Beach.
And to make it relatable to the common man they suggest that Mickelson could save something like $8 million if he moved to a state without income taxes. Who can blame the guy, right?
Unfortunately this tax utopia doesn’t exist. While some states don’t collect income taxes from their residents, income tax is hardly the only tax one pays to a state. This sort of selective math exposes how disingenuous the “news” is from these sources.
If you consider the total tax burden by state instead of cherry picking income tax as your only measure, you would see that Mickelson’s nearly $48 million haul would have been subject to something closer to an additional $1 million in taxes in California than if he had moved to Florida.
One reason for this discrepancy is that California has a property tax rate that is half that of Florida and a quarter of that of conservative tax darling Texas.
It should also be noted that tax rate is only one piece of the puzzle when deciding where to put down roots. Safety, for example, is very important and some of the states with the lowest average tax rate also happen to be some of the most violent states.
But even if Phil Mickelson decides to “take his ball and go home” to a different state, California will still be home to more than four times as many millionaires as any other state in the U.S., because as much as conservatives obsess over tax rates, a lot of people realize the value taxes provide and the pitfalls of over focusing on income tax rates.
So while some in the top 1% may go elsewhere, Jerry Brown and congressional Democrats in California, free of the chains of Republican obstructionism, have overseen an unprecedented turnaround resulting in not only a balanced budget but a projected a surplus by cutting wasteful spending and increasing taxes on those who can most afford it – or exactly what President Obama has been asking for.