Middle-class retirees, Baby Boomers, older Americans – whatever you want to call them – seem to be the forgotten cohort among advocates and policymakers clamoring for state tax relief for select groups.

In the past year, and even in recent weeks, attention has been trained on lower-class Connecticut residents, children, parents, hospitals and other apparently needy groups. At the same time, Gov. Ned Lamont, a private-sector guy from Greenwich, has gone to great lengths to protect the uber-wealthy from tax increases.

Yet middle-class retirees, most of whom devoted their working lives to Connecticut and paid their fair share of property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, utility taxes, admission taxes, etc. have been left out of the conversation.

That’s true even though there is voluminous evidence, both anecdotal and data-driven, that when state residents reach retirement age, they’re leaving for friendlier states, particularly Florida. Obviously, some retirees are fleeing because they’ve grown weary of New England winters and crave warmer climes; others are moving to be near their grown children.  People are motivated to move for all kinds of reasons.

But there can be little doubt that many Baby Boomers have departed because they no longer can afford to live comfortably in Connecticut, one of the highest-cost states in the country. It should be noted that Connecticut has the seventh-oldest population of the 50 states. So we’re  not talking about handfuls of people.

It’s not hyperbolic to say that certain retirees are literally being taxed to death. The 2020 State Handbook, published by Kiplinger in November 2019, called “the Constitution State…a tax nightmare for many retirees.” Kiplinger’s compendium of tax information went on to say that the situation was getting better for some in Connecticut: those with federal adjusted gross income up to $75,000 (for single filers) and $100,000 (for couples).

The reason for their betterment is that lawmakers last year, with grudging support from Lamont, approved a multi-year phaseout of state taxes on some retirement income. Beginning July 1, 2019, the state tax on pension and annuity income was reduced by 14 percent, rising by 14 percent each year until it reaches 100 percent in 2025.

Similarly, for those same retirees, 100 percent of Social Security was exempted from state tax.

Scott Jackson, who was then state tax commissioner, referred to the recipients of the tax breaks as “the folks who made Connecticut great.”

And what about single retirees whose AGI is above $75,000 and couples whose AGI is above $100,000? Did they not help to make Connecticut great?

In effect, the legislature and governor created a “cliff” in the state’s tax structure, something they have studiously tried to avoid in the past. That is, if a couple’s AGI is $99,999, the duo is the beneficiary of significant tax savings. But if a couple’s AGI is $100,001, the couple is out of luck. They continue to get hammered every year.

Some will no doubt argue that a couple with an AGI of more than $100,000 shouldn’t complain because they’re living the Life of Riley. But let’s be real. It costs a lot to live in Connecticut. As an example, Connecticut has the fourth-highest property taxes in the country. Gas and utility taxes are among the highest as well. And let’s not forget that the 6.35 percent sales-tax base was broadened to include services that retirees use.

By comparison, New York and 36 other states don’t tax Social Security. Fourteen states don’t tax pensions. And Florida – where most Nutmeggers seem to be heading – doesn’t tax any retirement income.

Is it any wonder why aging Boomers are leaving Connecticut?

Michele Jacklin lives in Glastonbury.

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11 Comments

  1. Democrats are anti senior and anti retiree .There’s a lot of out of state cars from the north east lately in my small community here in SC.people just like me Got fed up of the excessive taxation

  2. In some cities within the State of Connecticut, a single retiree living on a fixed income, can lose over 21% of that income to Municipal Property Taxes on their Home, and Vehicle. Do the math. Theoretical Example: Combined Gross Income : Social Security and IRA CD Interest. SS Income – $28,000, IRA CD Income (2.5%) on $300,000 savings – $7,500. Gross Income: ( $28,000 + $7,500 = $35,500). Municipal Property Taxes: Home – $7,300, Auto – $1,100. Total Municipal Property Tax Burden: ($7,300 + $1,100 = $8,400). Impact of Municipal Property Taxes on Senior living on a Fixed Income: ( $8,400 ÷ $35,500 = 24%). That’s
    right, 24%. Also, please remember, this is gross income. Not net, after being reduced further by federal and state income taxes.

    Bottom Line: The State of Connecticut Government is driving some of its proud elderly citizens living on fixed incomes into abject state of poverty.

  3. It is pretty clear that CT sees its producing citizens as expendable resources. Can you imagine if it put the same effort into retaining its human resources as it does toward saving environmental resources?

    The government wishes/desires/needs to grow at a rate which exceeds the growth of its citizens, and as the citizens struggle to be self-sustaining, that struggle is used against them. It leaves them with the option of leaving Connecticut or looking to the government for assistance. I see it as entrapment. This struggle, created by bad policy, becomes the government’s moral imperative to grow and to further separate citizens from what monies they have.

    It would seem that the political desire to have people need government far beyond its intended scope is preferable to citizens who are able to support themselves. It is evident when the uber rich and the working poor, who are largely unaffected by tax policy, are the ones who continually select the majority leadership in our state government.

    1. Perfect description of Connecticut government’s modus operandi. Individual drive and ambition is not a value to this government yet they skim or extort revenue from those having individualist traits.

  4. I can’t begin to count the number of retirees that I personally know who, upon retirement, moved (or are planning to move) to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee — some for the weather, but most because of favorable tax climates for retirees. Many of those still in CT are struggling. It makes sense to try to keep retirees in the state because, especially when it comes to local property taxes, they contribute more than they take in services. (When you have a situation — just for example — where a retiree pays $5,000 in local property taxes and a family pays $5,000 in local property taxes, but they have two kids in school, at a minimum cost of $10,000 yearly per child — well, do the math.)

  5. There are a handful of other southern states that sport no state income tax, no state sales tax and yet have a better climate for retirees. We’re beginning to plan having hit the double nickel mark. I’ll be looking at property this weekend, and it won’t be in CT. We’ve paid more in taxes here than we’ve consumed in services and with both kids gone, we’re paying way too much in property, income and sales tax. As we cut the cord when cable pricing got too crazy, here we’re also cutting the cord with Connecticut. For some reason the legislature can’t see the writing in front of their eyes. They’ve done nothing to control costs or employment issues, they just keep kicking the can down the road. We don’t plan to be here when the creditors come to collect.

  6. Keep in mind that retirees tired of paying high taxes tend to vote Republican. Encouraging them to leave the state is excellent political strategy for the Democrats to retain power. This is a national trend for Blue States. The same phenomenon is seen in California, New York and Illinois.

    1. My concern is that the fiscal disaster that progressives have perpetrated on taxpayers here will be exported to the low tax states, thus setting them with the same fiscal disaster. Its a very real risk as Florida at least is very much in play politically. The lure of lower taxes may in fact be a temporary phenomenon due to an outmigration of tax and spenders here and in other troubled blue states to those low cost states.

  7. They also don’t make it easy on us private sector working class citizens. You either have to be a state employees or teacher for them to care. The funny part is the state retirees who leave taking our tax dollars with them. It’s like our govt here just loves providing southern states with additional capital and resources.

  8. “what about single retirees whose AGI is above $75,000 and couples whose AGI is above $100,000? Did they not help to make Connecticut great?”
    __________________________
    You mean the 45-50 year old retired public employees who padded their last 3 years so they can collect those huge pensions, along with their Cadillac medical benefits? Is that who you’re asking about?
    No, they actually did not help make Connecticut great – just the opposite, they helped bankrupt it.

    1. So the middle class in CT is made up mainly of public employees (including retirees)?
      Also, you might check pension amounts. Most of them are not over-large, especially those of people hired more recently than the Reagan administration.

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