I’ve blogged how taxes sold as only affecting “the rich” eventually make its way to the lower/middle class, and I’m not just talking about through higher prices. I mean actual cash sent in to the government. A perfect example is the tax on social security benefits. Yes, the benefits you’ve earned through paying social security taxes your whole life are taxed yet again when you receive them. Of course, this only applies if you’re a member of “the rich,” at least that is how it was slipped past voters into law. So, what is considered rich?–if you have combined income (i.e. social security, employment, etc.) that exceeds $34,000 for singles, or $44,000 for a married couple. The actual calculation is purposely so complex that the average person can’t easily picture the taxable amount, but the point is, would you consider a married couple with $44,000 income rich?
Believe it or not, a threshold that a senior greeter at Walmart can now easily beat was once considered fairly high, but government used one of its oldest tricks in the book, it didn’t index the threshold for inflation. As the U.S. Dollar has plummetted in value, the lower/middle class now is subect to the taxes. It’s difficult to comprehend, but if the inflation rate of the last two years continues, in only 12-15 years, a McDonald’s worker will be earning $100,000 but will be unable to buy anything more than he/she already does today. Remember that the next time a politician purposes some new “tax on the rich” buried in a 2000-page bill, using a formula involving dozens of numbers and calculations.
As the April 15th tax filing deadline approaches, it seems I’m reminded daily what a colossal waste the government makes of my tax dollars. Liberals always whine the “rich” should be paying more in taxes, but we all know new taxes always come back to bite the real source of revenue — the Middle Class. This is especially noticeable by those of us with self-employment income, who must send in quarterly tax payments that include not only estimated federal & state income taxes but a DOUBLE portion of Social Security & Medicare (the 2nd half of which employers usually pay). So what do we get for it? I won’t go into how all the taxes I’ll pay in my lifetime probably won’t cover one tank in Ukraine. What about the generous entitlements “heroic” politicians steal from us to give to people they deem worthy?
Fun fact: EVERY government benefit that is income means-tested gives an incentive to NOT work, or at least work less. Even normally hard-working lower paid people can see that it isn’t worthwhile to take a job when it puts health care, EBT, low-income housing, or other benefits in jeopardy. And this goes beyound the obvious. For example, consider Biden’s “forgiveness” of student loan debt, which applies to a $125,000 income limit, or double that for a married couple. A doctor earning $250,000 a year might have a spouse who wants to work, who sees they will start $20,000 in the hole because of the lost benefit by going back to work. And you wonder why we have a nationwide labor shortage? Tax credits like the Earned Income Credit (which can be as much as $7000) are phased out with more income. People always adjust their behavior to government rules & benefits, especially when they have a knowledgeable financial/tax advisor giving them advice.
Yes, there are plenty of good people hit by hard times who depend on the benefits, who have unplanned pregnancies, medical issues, Biden-economy investment losses, or other problems. Unfortunately though, we have a class of people who have simply learned to game the system. If you don’t believe me, talk to someone who works with receipients in a government entitlement office, or volunteer for one of many charities such as homeless shelters. The beneficiaries share information with each other how to take advanage of every government benefit. My mother worked in such a government office most of her life. She described more than a few visitors who she couldn’t get out of her office unless she threw a job application in front of them. I personally volunteered at a domestic abuse shelter for a year. It struck me how cynical some of the full-time workers there were, and this was because so many of the people that stayed there weren’t victims of domestic violence. They were simply part of the permanent dependent class who would make up stories to take advantage of the free housing & food. So, in addition to wasting precious resources, they undermined the legitimate victims of domestic abuse.
All of us go through tough times, so I can see the need for temporary assistance like unemployment benefits, but too many people have developed a form of “learned helplessness,” who feel their only means of survival is indefinite government support. Having others support you undermines your whole self-esteem. It removes incentive to improve yourself through education, or work your way up in the job world. A $15/hour full-time job pays about $31,000 a year before taxes. Health care, tax credits, housing, food, and other benefits can easily equal or surpass that amount. So, why do it? And unfortunately, no matter what your training or education, you have to take lower paying jobs for a while before you have the experience to get a well-paying one.
It’s no wonder we have the lowest work participation rate since the 1970s. Only back then, during the high-inflation, recessionary Jimmy Carter economy, it wasn’t voluntary! Now, with Help Wanted signs everywhere, it’s almost entirely a choice. Remember that the next time you see a politician patting themselves on the back because they gave away more stolen money to secure voting blocks.
Once again the Divider-in-Chief is trying to slip in another tax increase while focusing hatred away from the government by attacking a convenient opponent–oil companies. He cites their “obscene” recent profits while pushing for a quadrupling of his new tax just passed in January on stock buybacks. As usual, he is taking advantage of economic illiteracy of much of the public to hit 401k’s, the poor, and middle class–all while increasing the coffers of his Ruling Class buddies. Stock buybacks are simply a way to distribute profits to shareholders by increasing Earnings Per Share (and therefore the stock price) as opposed to cash dividends. Whether it’s dividend taxes or capital gains taxes, the shareholders pay either way. The difference is that it gives companies financial flexibility to manage the stability of the balance sheet and protect the regular cash dividends that millions of Americans (most notably retirees) depend.
Notice also that his attacks are always on politically advantageous opponents rather than BY FAR the biggest examples of “obscene” profits and stock buybacks–Big Tech! Exxon and Chevron put together are about 1/3 the size of Apple. The profits & buybacks of all the oil companies combined the past 10 years are a tiny fraction of that in any of the top tech companies–Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Have you ever in your life heard Biden attack these companies? Why? Obviously, they are joined at the hip with the Democrat party, while oil companies generally lean right and provide an easy target to misdirect government hatred.
In the end, government interference & tax increases will do what they always do–create more inefficiences in the market while creating unintended consequences, as citizens & corporations simply adjust their behavior to get around the latest stupid change.