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Head of the NYSE talks of leaving New York in opinion piece, and possibly coming to Florida

Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 10, 2021

LEE COUNTY — The New York Stock Exchange could become the Florida Stock Exchange.

The head of the world’s largest financial market, Stacey Cunningham, floated the idea of leaving New York in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal to avoid taxes.

When people think of Florida, they often picture restaurants and shopping, the kind of business you do on vacation. But more and more, people are choosing to move down to the sunshine state because there’s no income tax, and the cost of living is low.

We talked to one man who already made that decision for himself. Tom Mathews tells us he was a Wall Street banker for years, and he only left to become a Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University because the taxes were so high.

"I was able to cut my property tax bill by almost two thirds, and I pay no state income taxes, which was fantastic," said Mathews.

But now, it’s not just individuals fleeing high tax states, it’s major corporations. Last month, Fox Business published a list of companies that have already moved at least part of their business out of New York. It included Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Credit Suisse, and UBS.

"Goldman Sachs, who has very smart people, they’ve decided to move I believe their investment management arm down over here," said Mathews.

So when an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal floated the idea of moving the world’s largest financial marketplace, possibly to Florida or Texas, the Chair of FGCU's Economics Department, Shelton Weeks, said he wasn’t surprised.

"Individuals and entities respond to incentives. When you continue to stack negative incentives in front of an individual or entity such as the New York Stock Exchange, you’re going to drive behavior," said Weeks.

Those negative incentives come in the form of Assembly Bill A7791B, which adds a state tax every time a stock is bought or sold. With everything in the market going virtual, Weeks said avoiding taxes like that has never been easier.

"The ability to conduct business virtually really breaks that tie to a specific geographic area," said Weeks.

That’s why Mathews tells us he’s changed the career advice he’s offering in class.

"I’m telling the students stay in Florida. Don’t go anywhere else, because this is a growing state," said Mathews.

We reached out to both New York lawmakers who co-sponsored that bill, but we didn’t hear back. The New York Assembly wraps up this year on June 18th, so we may not know what’s going to happen with this proposed stock tax until then.