Public Assets Institute > Library > Publications > Reports > Where They Come From; Where They Go

Where They Come From; Where They Go

pdficonPDF Version

Jack Hoffman (December 2007)

The 1040 forms that people file every year with the Internal Revenue Service provide a lot of information beyond income statistics and tax collections. By tracking Social Security numbers and the addresses from which taxpayers file, the IRS can follow people moving from one state to another. They also can track people moving in or out of the country — at least those who file income tax returns. And the IRS has data on how much income moves as people migrate from one place to another.

According to the latest information published by the IRS, more people moved out of Vermont in 2006 than moved in. However, the new arrivals had more income than those who left — on average about 181 percent more per exemption.

The tables below show the movement in and out of Vermont. They include aggregate figures as well as migration to and from each of the other states. The IRS tracks the number of returns filed and the number of exemptions represented by those returns, which is an approximation of the number of people who moved.

It appears that many Vermonters who left didn’t go far away or headed for warmer weather. About a quarter of those who emigrated went to New Hampshire or New York. The next most popular destination was Florida. Much of the movement into Vermont also was from neighboring states. New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts accounted for about 40 percent of the newcomers in 2006.

What the IRS data don’t show are the age or income brackets of the people coming and going. For a time, the IRS reported the median income of those migrating, which was a better indicator of the income of the average person or family coming to Vermont or moving away.

Knowing the age and income of families would help to answer some important questions about demographic changes affecting Vermont. There has been anecdotal information — and considerable worry — about young Vermonters leaving the state. It would be useful to have hard data to test that assumption. It also would be good to know who the people are who are moving to Vermont. Even more important would be to learn why they are coming to the state. (A new study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Is New England Experiencing A “Brain Drain”? offers new information about young professionals in the region.)

Here are the migration figures for Vermont for 2006. Figure 1 shows total figures for movement in and out of the state. Figures 2 and 3 provide a breakdown of where Vermonters went after they left the state and where the newcomers had lived previously.

Source: Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income Division; Public Assets Institute

Source: Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income Division; Public Assets Institute

Source: Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income Division; Public Assets Institute


1 The  original report said that new arrivals to Vermont had, on average, 15 percent  more income per exemption than those who left the state. Their total income  was 15 percent greater than those who left, but the income per exemption was 18 percent greater.

Download a PDF of the Report