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How Money Walks - How $2 Trillion Moved Between the States, and Why It Matters [Kindle Edition]

Travis H. Brown , Dr. Arthur Laffer , John Tamny , Thomas Del Beccaro , Victor Sperandeo , Rex Sinquefield , Deroy Murdock , Niger Innis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Between 1995 and 2010, millions of Americans moved between the states, taking with them over $2 trillion in adjusted gross incomes. Two trillion dollars is equivalent to the GDP of California, the ninth largest in the world. It’s a lot of money. Some states, like Florida, saw tremendous gains ($86.4 billion), while others, like New York, experienced massive losses ($58.6 billion). People moved, and they took their working wealth with them. The question is, why? Why did Americans move so much of their income from state to state? Which states benefitted and which states suffered? And why does it matter?

Using official statistics from the IRS, How Money Walks explores the hows, whys, and impact of this massive movement of American working wealth. Consider these facts. Between 1995 and 2010:

The nine states with no personal income taxes gained $146.2 billion in working wealth
The nine states with the highest personal income tax rates lost $107.4 billion
The 10 states with the lowest per capita state-local tax burdens gained $69.9 billion
The 10 states with the highest per capita state-local tax burdens lost $139 billion

Money—and people—moved from high-tax states to low-tax ones. And the tax that seemed to matter the most? The personal income tax. The states with no income taxes gained the greatest wealth, while the states with the highest income taxes lost the most. Why does this matter? Because the robust presence of working wealth is the leading indicator of economic health. The states that gained working wealth are growing and thriving. The states that lost working wealth lost their most precious cargo—their tax base—and the consequences are dire: stagnation, deterioration, an economic death spiral as they continue to raise taxes and lose people, businesses, and working wealth. The numbers don't lie.


“When I read How Money Walks, I thought, ‘It’s about time.’ Finally, we have a book that addresses one of our nation’s most critical (yet rarely discussed) fiscal issues: the migration of working wealth as a direct result of personal income tax rates. Brown’s book paints a clear portrait of where money goes and why. How Money Walks should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand why some states struggle to retain people and businesses while others welcome billions of new dollars each year.”

Dr. Arthur Laffer

Founder and chairman, Laffer Associates and Laffer Investments

Former economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan

Editorial Reviews


DEROY MURDOCK: Congress, pay attention: Taxpayers go where rates are low. Author Travis Brown demonstrates how Americans between 1995 and 2010 shifted some $2 trillion in wealth by abandoning California, Illinois, New Jersey and other high-tax states and unpacking in low-tax states such as Florida, Nevada and Texas. --NH Register

MIKE HUCKABEE: This book is terrific. I wish every governor and more importantly every state legislator in the country would read this. --The Mike Huckabee Show

DR. ARTHUR LAFFER: Brown's How Money Walks should serve as a wake-up call for states imposing punishingly high tax rates on their citizens. --Arthur Laffer, former economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan

MIKE HUCKABEE: This book is terrific. I wish every governor and more importantly every state legislator in the country would read this. --The Mike Huckabee Show

DR. ARTHUR LAFFER: Brown's How Money Walks should serve as a wake-up call for states imposing punishingly high tax rates on their citizens. --Arthur Laffer, former economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan

About the Author

Travis H. Brown is the CEO and co-founder of Pelopidas, LLC, a St. Louis-based public affairs and advocacy firm. He is the president of Let Voters Decide, a coalition that supports state tax reform and the protection of voters' rights. He is a contributor to and a blogger at YourTaxCode. Travis travels the nation giving engaging, localized presentations based on the research in How Money Walks. To order additional copies of How Money Walks or to book Travis for a speaking engagement, please visit.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2328 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B12U5BK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,143 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nancy R January 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
In How Money Walks Travis Brown presents a different (and compelling) view of migration in the United States. It's the kind of topic that you may not know you're even interested in until you read this book. The information is presented in a way that is easy to understand. You'll have a lot to think about after you read this book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nearly everyone loathes high taxes. Most of us are content to complain about them and few of us devote much thought to actual consequences. In fact, much tax policy discussion revolves around economic theory and - outside of government halls - it is one of those theoretical topics we'd just soon forget. Like college algebra, perhaps.

Every separate state collects taxes which compound federal income taxes. In other words, state taxes add to total citizen tax burdens, but they rise from different sources. Some states impose an income tax, but others don't. Florida is an interesting example of a state without income taxes, but the thriving tourist industry there also provides substantial other tax revenues. Florida residents enjoy very low state taxes.

Other states collect high income taxes, plus high municipal and/or property taxes, too. Sales taxes add to that burden, too. Add those chunks to federal income taxes and residents pay a sizable portion of their income in total taxes.

Surprisingly, outside of a few academics posing theoretical questions, no one seemed to notice how taxes influence shifts in population.

From 1995 to 2010, over $2 trillion of personal income (all sources) migrated from high income tax states to low income tax states. Those numbers are solid. Travis Brown analyzed fifteen years of IRS tax return data along with various state tax policies. The beauty of this book lies in simple explanations and easy-to-read data. His impeccable data points to a likely conclusion: people relocate from states with higher income taxes to states with lower (or no) income taxes. A very large and prosperous group of people.

The presentation is even-handed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some people have said for years, "You can chart on a map, people moving from high-tax states to low-tax states." Well, now someone has done it. With this book, the corresponding website, [...], and a mobile app, Travis Brown has given anyone the ability to see how their state, county or city is faring, in terms of economic opportunity, compared to other places around the country.

Wealth-creation is not always a zero-sum game, but some states and locales are winners and some are losers in the competition to attract working wealth, represented in this book by adjusted gross income (AGI) as measured by the IRS. In my state, Oklahoma, we lost nearly $1 billion in working wealth, along with over 33,000 productive taxpaying citizens, between 1992 and 2010. The majority of that financial capital -- and the accompanying jobs and opportunity -- went to two states, Texas and Florida, that have no personal income tax. In other words, they do not penalize their citizens for working. In Oklahoma, we charge a penalty of over 5% on people who get up and go to work each day. Interestingly enough, however, Oklahoma began to climb out of its wealth-loss hole in 2005, precisely when the largest income tax rate reduction in state history was signed into law and began to take effect.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for all State Politicians ! March 20, 2013
By Mike
Format:Kindle Edition
The title of this book is what caught my attention as I try to decide whether to keep my money in my state or set up residency in Florida in a few years. This was an easy read as Travis Brown brought statistics and numbers together in a way that makes you understand the impact it is having on my state and reinforces my interest in moving my home base. I hope he markets this not only to consumers but finds a way to get politicians to read this book and use it to make some good decisions for thier voters. Very interesting and a real eye opener for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Applaud the spotlight placed on the issue! January 8, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very technical (redundantly so) and slightly heavy on the numbers.

I'll excuse the redundancy because this is a topic that doesn't get nearly enough attention. If more people were aware of the disparity in the cost of living that various places offer, especially with regard to taxation - I believe the states who are doing it better for less would be more rewarded and the states doing more for exorbitant taxation would be more greatly penalized through migration out of their respective states.

Our family is moving this year out of Illinois to Tennessee and "How Money Walks" details many of the reasons why. Our family and friends will still primarily be in Illinois, but we are constantly trying to convince them to look at the data to lead them to their own conclusions to move out.

There are so many choices in this wonderful country to live for less and thus allowing to contribute to ones future years needs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars timely Not timid December 14, 2013
By jvdhawk
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Full of useful facts and clearly presented.
The comparisons with market caps of companies, sporting franchise valuations and actors' gross box receipts were a bit obtuse.
All in all a cogent look at why the tax and spend liberal apparatchiks in the blue states are headed into the abyss.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars should be read by every politician
Should be read by every politician, especially in Rhode Island. I wish I could send it to all on Smith Hill
Published 5 days ago by Dr. Lawrence J. Dario
5.0 out of 5 stars worthy of your time to read
Outstanding book. The author quantifies how high if not punitive tax policies in some states are the impetus behind much of the population movement around the country. Read more
Published 5 months ago by J Brodie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Every American citizen should read it to ...
Great book. Every American citizen should read it to see what states tax you the most!
Published 6 months ago by Patricia A. Burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Why high taxes does not work!
Published 6 months ago by Nick311
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Very enlighting! Putting my house on the market and heading to Florida!
Published 6 months ago by Jacqueline Connor
5.0 out of 5 stars Like attending an eye-opening lecture. You won't forget what you...
Thanks to reading this book, I've learned to compare economic life in different parts of our country. Now I feel even better about moving away from New York state.
Published 6 months ago by littleoldme
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend it.
The book is extremely well documented and is highly persuasive. I highly recommend it.
Published 6 months ago by Paul Esch
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time and money
The 40 minutes it took to read this repetitive work were a waste of my time. Don't bother... it's one long commercial to sell his app and there are some major leaps in his research... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clear Look at the Future.
Mr. Brown does an excellent job of showing how jobs and people have moved, and will continue to do so, from the coasts to the middle of the country.
Published 8 months ago by Pat
3.0 out of 5 stars But why does it walk
The book makes two points. The first: Income, as represented by adjusted gross income, is moving from some counties and states to others. Read more
Published 9 months ago by jon
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