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Why I Escaped From New York and California

By June 27, 2012No Comments
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As published at The Project to Restore America:

By Wayne Allyn Root

I was born and raised in New York — the greatest state with the greatest city on earth. New York City is the Big Apple- filled with the kind of energy and excitement I crave.

Yet almost twenty-five years ago I left. Actually I ran for my life. Why? The answer is simple – taxes! I wasn’t willing to live in a place- even a great place- where government takes so much of your money and gives you so little in return.

I call my journey “Escape from New York” and I wasn’t the only one. With all my friends and relatives still there, I came home often to visit, on business, or to appear on Fox News Channel. I had to schedule 3 or 4 “shifts” per day, to accommodate all the friends and family that I wanted to see. Today when I go back, no one is left. All my friends, business associates, and relatives are gone, vanished. Over the past 25 years, like me, one by one they made their escape from New York’s high taxes.

My escape back then was to sunny Southern California. I never looked back. The sun was always shining, the palm trees swaying, the ladies prettier (I was single back then), and at that time, the taxes lower. I was happy as a kid in a candy store. I bought a home on the beach and lived the life I’d seen on Baywatch. I woke up every morning to take a walk on the beach, and from my deck watched the dolphins swim. I married a former Miss Oklahoma. I was in heaven.

Unfortunately, during the next decade California grew more and more desperate. Taxes were raised again and again. There were so many rules, regulations, and lawyers, it became impossible to run a business in California. Not only were the income, sales, and business taxes outrageously high (property taxes were kept somewhat in check by what is known as Proposition 13), workers comp and health insurance for my employees were even worse. It became almost impossible to fire an employee in California without getting sued. It became so aggravating that even the sunshine and walks on the beach no longer made me happy. Once again I plotted my escape.

My destination — Las Vegas, Nevada. Can you imagine leaving the sunshine, palm trees, walks on the beach and dolphins in my backyard for the desert and 110 degree summer days? You can when you realize it’s a place with no income tax- zero. No business income tax- zero. No capital gains tax- zero. No inheritance tax- zero. And the 16th lowest property taxes in America. A place where the state constitution bans personal income taxes, limits the time politicians can meet, and welcomes guns in the hands of law abiding citizens. This is a place where they practice Wild West Cowboy Capitalism. I call it heaven. God, I love Nevada. I don’t plan on ever leaving.

Let me tell you what it’s like to live in a no tax, limited government state. As good as it is to not have to pay state income tax, it’s even better that there is no state version of the IRS. Do you realize the peace of mind you get from knowing there is no state tax authority to target, hound, harass, and audit you? No state tax authority to send you notices, scare you half to death, make you nauseous, and ruin your day? Take it from me, it’s wonderful.

I left California and have not had any business there for almost thirteen years. And guess what? I still get notices from the California state tax authority each year telling me I owe them money. That’s how desperate they are. They must hound and harass actual California business owners 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. What a terrible way to live.

And the worst part? In California they treat taxpayers like crap. They don’t say please or thank you after you give them an obscene share of the money you worked long and hard for. They demonize you for not paying MORE. That’s right, California has TV and radio advertising campaigns demonizing rich people because they don’t pay enough. They want your right arm and your first born.

In Nevada it’s simple. No matter how much you make, you owe the state NOTHING. Zero. Zip. Nada. In Nevada, what’s yours is yours. In Nevada if you make $50,000, $500,000, or $50,000,000, you owe the state nothing. Your money belongs to you!

What does that mean to a small business owner like me? I’m not rich. I own no yachts or private jets. I have no offshore accounts. I’m simply “the bedrock of America” – an upper middle class, small business owner trying to move up in life, create jobs, give my kids the best I can, live a good life, and leave a legacy my kids can build on. I have a big mortgage, a second home, never-ending bills, three kids being home-schooled by tutors, and my oldest daughter attending Harvard (for $60,000 per year before taxes).

I could not have this life in either NY or California. On the exact same income, I’d live a far worse quality of life in those high tax states. But, Nevada has given me the life of my dreams. Because of the money I save in state taxes, I was able to afford a new home on a golf course, twice as big as my home in California. I was able to afford a vacation home on a ski slope. I can afford to shop for organic food at Whole Foods to keep my kids healthy. And most importantly, I can afford to home-school my kids. That led to my daughter being accepted at Harvard, and now Oxford. The lack of taxes changed my life and gave me and my family a much better lifestyle, including enough left over to pay for a trip to Maui each summer. I owe it all to the taxes I don’t pay in Nevada.

Is that bad? Am I missing something? Isn’t the purpose of government to make our lives better? To allow us to pursue happiness? To allow us to live the American Dream? Nevada does that. It’s just not possible anymore in high tax states like NY and California.

What exactly do you get for your high taxes in NY and California? I lived in NY, California, and now Nevada for long periods of time and can tell you, you get nothing for all those extra taxes. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nevada’s zero state income tax has made my life far better. These high tax states take your money, give you nothing for it, and to top it off- treat you like crap, never thank you, and have the nerve to say you should pay more.

No thanks. I’ll live in the desert and keep my own money, thank you.

While I don’t get to walk on the beach in the morning, the taxes I don’t pay here in Nevada, allow me to walk every morning on my golf course with views of 5 lakes, 7 waterfalls, beautiful mountains, and the world famous Vegas Strip. Las Vegas has been good to me.

And what has my escape from California done to my old state? Well, it’s not just me. During the past decade over 1.3 million residents escaped California. When I add up the income taxes, property taxes, business taxes, and the payroll and income taxes for the 100 employees I took with me… chasing me away probably cost California more than $2,000,000. Multiply that times thousands of other high income, high net worth, business owners among the 1.3 million who have escaped…and that accounts for California’s massive budget deficit.

You know what they say about pigs- they get slaughtered. And, California and NY are certainly pigs. They chased their most productive citizens away and now are broke, dysfunctional, and in a desperate death spiral demanding ever more tax revenues to pay their bills.

If we let big government progressives have their way, NY and California’s story will also be America’s sad story. They will turn the whole country into Greece, or America’s version of Greece- California. And why should anyone expect the results to be different? Keep spending, confiscating, and demonizing business owners, and wealthy Americans will leave America in droves, just as Californians and New Yorkers are leaving those places.

My personal story clearly shows why taxes are bad and are destroying the living standard and quality of life for your family. Governments lie when they say taxes are good and the price you must pay for a “civilized society.” Big government doesn’t lead to a better life. Only a very limited government, allowing you to keep more of your own money, leads to a better life.

I’m betting I’ll be seeing you in Nevada soon!

Wayne Allyn Root is a Capitalist Evangelist and serial entrepreneur. He is a former Libertarian vice presidential nominee. He now serves as Chairman of the Libertarian National Campaign Committee. He is the best-selling author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gold & Tax Cuts.” His web site:

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