Since the early 1990’s the IRS has made available information on taxpayer migration. Using addresses on tax returns, and tax/income information, you can paint a picture of how people react to tax policy. Which is to say, this data showed how people tend to move themselves and their businesses away from higher tax areas.
That’s a useful tool for public policy analysis, but unfortunate the Obama administration is ending it:
“The IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau (which provides technical support in reporting tax migration data) have not made an official announcement as to why the program is being discontinued,” writes Jim Pettit for National Review. “So we are left to speculate why such vital economic statistics suddenly got canceled.”
As Glenn Reynolds notes, this is Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom come to life.
From the book:
“Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions–all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced.
The solution for bad policy which doesn’t measure up, in Obama’s eyes, is apparently to destroy the measuring stick.