Are You Ready for a Snowbird Tax?

The governor of a northern state is proposing a snowbird tax on residents who live 60 days to just under six months in the state.

Minnesota in winter (Source: minnesota.publicradio.org)

Minnesota in winter (Source: minnesota.publicradio.org)

Spend most of the year in Florida, Texas, Arizona, or another Sunbelt state, and a snowbird smack down could be your new reality.

Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota is proposing a snowbird tax as part of a larger tax grab by proposing to increase Minnesota’s personal income tax rate to 9.85% from 7.85% on income above $150,000 for singles and $250,000 for joint filers.

Minnesota’s income tax rate would be the country’s sixth highest.

Dayton tells snowbirds that since you’re rich, you can pay more. It’s time snowbirds paid their fair share!

Dayton, a Democrat, proposed the idea last month when announcing key parts of his proposed $37.9 billion budget.

He made a similar proposal last year that was defeated by the then-Republican-controlled legislature.

The plan would purportedly raise no more than $30 million over two years from all Minnesota residents who live 60 days to just under six months in Minnesota by taxing their capital gains and dividends as well as income from stocks and bonds.

The prorated income tax would largely hit older residents and retirees because they leave northern states to establish residency in such warmer places as Arizona and Florida.

Yuma, Arizona in winter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yuma, Arizona in winter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to Dalton’s logic it’s unfair that somebody can live six months and a day outside of Minnesota and pay no state personal income taxes, then come back and take advantage of “all the state has to offer for five months and 29 days.”

“This is a snowbird tax—absolutely,” he told reporters.

Apparently in Dalton’s world it matters little that seniors have worked for upwards of 35 years contributing to the state economy and paying taxes and scrimping and saving in order to enjoy their senior years in a warmer climate.

The purportedly first-of-its-kind tax would be difficult to enforce and is already facing opposing from state Republicans.

The hassle factor will be enormous, with the taxmen presumably demanding proof of location during the year via the likes of golf or restaurant receipts, reports Wall Street Journal.

When revenue invariably doesn’t meet expectations, maybe Dayton can require a GPS locator for grandma’s cellphone.

But raising revenue isn’t the point of this exercise. In the governor’s own words it’s about “unfairnesses”. The goal is to punish people for the sin of being able to afford to travel south for the winter.

“I don’t even think that’s constitutional,” Senate Minority Leader David Hann told the MinnPost.com.

“I don’t even know how you’d do that. (And) as far as I can see, there’s not a lot of money attached to it.”

FoxNews reports that a Florida Republican congressman is welcoming to his home state Minnesota residents who migrate south to escape the Midwest’s notoriously cold, harsh winters—now that their governor is trying to impose a so-called “snowbird tax” on them.

“Dear Governor Mark Dayton,” Rep. Trey Radel wrote.

Winter in Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter in Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I’m writing today to thank you. As a Floridian, I am overjoyed to hear about your plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans, most especially the so-called ‘snowbirds.’ Your proposal gives us a chance to shine here in the Sunshine State.”

Radel, argues in the letter, which appear written with pointed sarcasm to skewer higher taxes, that southwest Florida would welcome more entrepreneurs and philanthropists investing in the region. And he cited such incentives as no income taxes, investment incentives for big and small businesses, and “great” public, charter, and private schools.

“It’s my sincere hope your plan has just driven many Minnesotans to become year-round residents of our great state,” he wrote. “I thank you for your policy.  It draws the contrast of what is happening not only in United States today, but the world.”

Worth Pondering…

Even if the majority agrees on an idiotic idea, it is still an idiotic idea.

—Sam Levenson

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