July 16, 2003

Life Plan Part 96214

So, I was talking to the lady from the bank, arranging for me not to have my car repo'd right away, and telling her of my jobless woes, and she said "It's too bad you don't live here, we're hiring." Now she was in Birmingham. I've never been there, so I don't know what it's like, but she said something about being within relatively easy access to mountains and beaches. I know some people who lived in Birmingham and didn't care for it, but my needs are simple: electricity, plumbing, cable access (internet, I don't care about tv), air-conditioning. Maybe I should move out of Florida.

So I went to Apartments.com to check out Birmingham. Prices seem reasonable... But is there a state income tax? Florida is one of the few states without a state income tax.

Posted by Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 01:29 AM

OK, you're unemployed, about to lose you car, are otherwise attracted to Birmingham ... and you'd let a state income tax stop you? What's up with that?

Posted by: Michael at July 16, 2003 at 01:34 AM

Having more money taken off my paycheck kind of precludes my ability to live there, don't it, Mr. Helpful?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 01:42 AM

As an ex-resident, yes there is state income tax. Birmingham is like a low-rent version of Detroit. Sure it's got it's nice areas but the majority of it is a freaking slum. Never going back there. Ever.

Posted by: Sekimori at July 16, 2003 at 01:55 AM

Hm. Sounds like Miami. With more taxes. Screw that.

I wonder what Fairbanks is like. I hear Alaska pays a lot. There's just the sub-freezing temps and the earthquakes and blizzards and things to deal with, that's all. (Is that "otherwise attracted" to Fairbanks, helpful guy?)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 02:05 AM

I'm the same way. One of the first things I ask about a prospective place I'm going to move is whether there's an income tax, and what the overall tax situation is like. It weighs heavily on my willingness to live somewhere.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at July 16, 2003 at 06:20 AM

Alaska is also expensive. If you have family "Outside" as we call it, and you like to see them face-to-face sometimes, the only way is for you, or them, to endure Airport Security on a fairly regular basis.

Fairbanks isn't exactly a jumping town since they finished the first pipeline, and the current gas line project is, I think, on a much smaller scale -- yet the way people up there are drooling over it, should tell you something about the economics of the place.

That being said, there is growth happening up there, of a sort. They got a Home Despot recently, and Lord Waldemart is finally building a store. These may sorta offset the not-so-recent losses of JCPenney and Kmart. But what the region really needs is to finally get the Alaska Railroad linked with the rest of North America -- and that seems to be too big and ambitious a project for the state's moneymen to be all that serious about, so they're relying on Ted "Who's this piker of pork they call Robert Byrd?" Stevens to get kindly old Uncle Sam to cover it.

Oh, and Fairbanks also has UAF, which is home to some of the wackiest Leftgrump wackos I've ever seen in person -- and the retirement of the überLeftgrump to Hattiesburg, MS hasn't mellowed his intellectual <snicker> spawn in the least.

Anchorage might be a better choice; more of an economy, more of an even keel politically, and "it's only a half-hour's drive from Alaska."™

Posted by: McGehee at July 16, 2003 at 10:41 AM

Oh, I was only joking about moving to Alaska.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 12:28 PM

Folks have told me that in places with no state income tax, they get you with sales tax, property tax, license fees, and in other various and sundry ways.

Still, there is Neveda and I believe Tennessee. Or if worse comes to worse, our guest room in Virginia.......

Posted by: John McCrarey at July 16, 2003 at 02:34 PM

And there is Texas, too, as a state without income tax. The closer to the Mexican border, the lower the cost of living. It still amazes me how much farther my budget stretches here in San Antonio than it did in Indianapolis.

Posted by: roscoe at July 16, 2003 at 03:24 PM

Oh, I was only joking about moving to Alaska.

I figured. But in all this heat and humidity I just like talking about Alaska. Can't imagine why...

Posted by: McGehee at July 16, 2003 at 05:22 PM

Wow, blogger as troll. Never ran accross that before.

OK, now I get it. Income in Birmingham minus additional taxes is less than unemployment comp in Florida. That tough.

I had thought you had some wingnut kneejerk objection to taxes or something.

BTW, New Hampshire has no statewide taxes at all, but it's cold there too.

Posted by: Michael at July 16, 2003 at 06:31 PM

"Wow, blogger as troll. Never ran accross that before."

Excuse me? What the hell is your problem? You came on my website and made a rather snarky and clueless comment (clueless because you have no idea of my financial situation, though I would think that the fact that I have mentioned state tax being a deterrent to moving anywhere would be some sort of hint that I am not rich) and I replied with rather more civility than you deserve at this point. As for unemployment compensation, I am currently not receiving any. And in case this was going to be your next little dig, I am receiving zero government help of any other sort.

You know, you have been of absolutely zero help here. You have offered no suggestions, no humor, only snide remarks. It must be nice to be in such a secure position in your life that you can sit back and sneer at others who are in trouble.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 06:54 PM

I'm sorry my initial comment offended you so much, that was not my intention. I was only trying to suggest that if you otherwise like a place, you shouldn't let something like taxes stand in the way of enjoying it. It's true that I know nothing about you apart from what you blog, but I had a sense that you were positive about Birmingham. I honestly didn't intend any "digs" at all.

Had you chosen to reply with something like "damn straight -- taxes are evil!" I would have countered that without them, there would be no police, no schools, no public libraries, ... and we could have had a fun little political discussion. But, it was not to be.

Andrea, I hope things improve for you, that you find something even better than working in a bank. Look after yourself.

Posted by: Michael at July 16, 2003 at 08:20 PM

I'm not a mind reader, Michael. But as it seems I have given you an opportunity to feel aggrieved and put upon, I guess this little discussion wasn't entirely wasted.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 09:11 PM

No, I feel neither aggrieved nor put upon, just misunderstood.

Posted by: Michael at July 16, 2003 at 09:52 PM

You have explained yourself. I have accepted your explanations.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 10:01 PM

Thanks. Good luck to you!

Posted by: Michael at July 16, 2003 at 10:09 PM

Actually the tax bite in Alabama is comparatively small, both income and property wise. Its a bit like anywhere, there are people that like it and people that don't. I grew up there, and don't really have a desire to return, but, some of my extended family wouldn't consider living elsewhere. Terry Oglesby of Possumblog, and Mac Thomason of War Liberal seem to like it around those parts. I'd agree with Sekimori that you probably don't want to live inside the City Limits of Birmingham - around 20 years of civil mismanagment, graft, and cronyism have turned the actual city itself into somewhat of a basket case. The areas surrounding Birmingham, however, aren't (which is the reason so many people moved there from the city in the first place).

It ain't the fast lane, but it isn't totally the sticks. It ain't paradise, but it isn't a total armpit either.

On the bright side, they are just finishing up the Vulcan refurbishment, and he's got a bare butt...

Posted by: Wind Rider at July 16, 2003 at 10:46 PM

"Vulcan refurbishment" -- I don't think I want to know.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 11:15 PM

MONTANA! Income tax, yes...but NO SALES TAX! And beautiful scenery, no traffic jams, four seasons, etc...

Posted by: davidmsc at July 17, 2003 at 08:01 AM

And snow. Lots and lots of snow. I've never even been in snow. People tell me it's cold.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 17, 2003 at 09:59 AM

Birmingham is...uh..a place to live, but I wouldn't buy a house. I would rather live in an apartment with a 6-month lease. Birmingham is about in the middle of my list of where I would like to live. But, I'm used to living in North Mississippi (working in Memphis, TN) so Birmingham would be a slight improvement to me.

If you are jobless and there is a job in Birmingham, and it pays halfway decently, then I would move, but that's just me.

Posted by: John Hysmith at July 17, 2003 at 12:22 PM

Alabama state income tax is, IIRC, five percent. But you wind up getting a lot of that back, which raises questions as to why the state doesn't just tax at a lower rate and give a lower level of return. One thing that you can deduct on your state income tax form is federal taxes you paid. So what you end up paying is five percent of your AGI less federal taxes paid and all your other deductions. The Alabama state taxation structure is really just a mechanism for borrowing money from you and then paying a lot of it back without interest.

Posted by: David Perron at July 18, 2003 at 06:00 AM