Opinion

The Great Debate

Higher taxes hit working wives

March 5, 2009

 Diana Furchtgott-Roth– Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.  The views expressed are her own. —

Marriage is hard enough without the tax system making it even harder.

Look at Jeanne’s upcoming wedding to Rick.  Rick owns a plumbing firm and has taxable income of $160,000, and Jeanne’s taxable income as a teacher is $50,000.  Unmarried, he is in the 28 percent bracket and she is in the 25 percent bracket.  When they get married, they will be taxed at 33 percent — rising to 36 percent in 2011 if President Obama’s proposed tax hikes take effect.

By raising taxes on upper-income Americans, Congress would worsen our tax system’s marriage penalty on dual-income married couples, and Jeanne and Rick would pay even more tax married than single.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Men and women could be taxed on their income separately, as is the case in Britain. Since 1990, British married couples have been taxed independently, with deductions and allowances split between them.

It’s a revolutionary idea.  A married woman has her own tax return, with only her income, deductions, and capital gains.  She pays her own tax and has tax refunds returned to her.  If she makes mistakes, she pays her own penalties.

Rather than moving in the direction of Britain to reduce the marriage penalty, the penalty may rise further in 2011.  In President Obama’s new budget for 2010, he outlined plans to allow the top two tax rates to rise from 33 percent to 36 percent and from 35 percent to 39.6 percent in 2011.

Taxes would rise for singles with taxable income over $172,000 and married couples over $209,000.  Even if Jeanne and Rick weren’t immediately affected by higher rates, those rates might well hit them when they earn more.

Unless, of course, Jeanne and Rick decide to have children, and Jeanne left the workforce to care for them.  Say that Jeanne’s taxable income rose to $60,000, so she and Rick had a combined income of $220,000, placing them in President Obama’s new 36 percent bracket.  But with Jeanne at home looking after the children, their federal tax rate would be 28 percent.

Tax systems shouldn’t make it harder for women to work.  The penalty falls most heavily on married women who have invested in education, hoping to shatter glass ceilings and compete with men for managerial jobs, and the Obama plan would exacerbate the penalty.

When mothers take jobs, earnings are reduced by taxes paid at their husbands’ higher rates, in addition to costs for childcare and her transportation. This discourages married women not just from working, but also from striving for promotions, from pursuing upwardly-mobile careers.

Mothers are more affected by the marriage penalty than other women because they are more likely to move out of the labor force to look after newborn children and toddlers, and then to return to work when their children are in school.

Labor Department data show that as average number of earners per household rise, so do income levels.

One characteristic of the highest-earning one-fifth of households is that they have an average of two earners per household.  The middle fifth averages 1.4 earners per household, and the lowest-earning fifth averages half an earner per household—more part-time and unemployed workers, or retirees.  More married working women, more households in the top fifth of the income distribution. (See BLS Consumer Expenditure survey in pdf format.)

For President Obama to announce that he is raising taxes on those at the top end of the scale adversely affects the married working women who voted for him by a substantial majority.  There has to be a better way.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth can be reached at dfr@hudson.org.

Comments
93 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

people who Clear 250,000 a year are not small business owners. Most of the small business owners I know make profit of less than 100,000 and no where near 200,000.

They have _Sales_ of up to $1 million some times, but most of that goes back out in expenses.

If you make (profit) 250,000 or more a year, you are in the top 5% of income earners. No small potatoes that.

Posted by James | Report as abusive
 

“It’s a revolutionary idea.”

‘Revolutionary’? Its positivly ancient. Many countries abandoned family unit taxation in the 1970′s in favor of individual assesments because it was seen as a fairer system. Why quote Britain for their ‘breakthrough’ of 1990? They were a late comer to the party.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

Dual-wage earning families are penalized in more ways than just the income tax brackets. They also spend more money on 1) transportation to and from work, 2) appropriate work clothes, 3) baby sitting expenses, and 4) food (either fast prep, fast food, or restaurants.

The nation’s GDP is also expanded by the spouse’s additional production, larger home size, and the expenses mentioned in the previous paragraph.

And last, but not least, companies profitability benefits because most women are paid substantially less than their male counterparts.

In effect, taxing dual-wage earning families is akin to treating women like ‘slop-rags’.

Posted by Neil C Denver | Report as abusive
 

To: Bill from Texas,

Diana generalizes income taxation, doesn’t mention anything about particularities like your case. To put it simple: she is against progressive income taxes, and favours regressive ones. What I said is, and most economists would agree, regressive or flat taxation increases wealth disparity, and wealth disparity is the reason why wars naturally happen. No nation’s riches want catastrophic events, since in such scenario there is no ordinary political guarantee for them to have their wealth protected. If Diana is smart enough, she should point that Bush’es tax cuts should be left to expire, and more progressive taxation is inevitably neccessary to avoid social disruptions in near future. Her example covers less then 5% of the general population, i.e. is not representative for generalization. Just imagine what may happen with that happy middle class family making around 250 000 annualy, if other 300 million people around are so desperate and hungry and don’t obey laws to survive. This is extreme picture, but not impossible.

Posted by Ananke | Report as abusive
 

Ms. Furchtgott-Roth (a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute) has obviously spent way too much time in academia and not enough time living like ordinary people.
Next time, take a introductory economics class, and learn what the other 99% of the population is like.
In the kinds of tax brackets discussed, those folks really shouldn’t complain.

Posted by Edgy | Report as abusive
 

She has a point, in a mavericky sort of way.
Please, no more FUD from Ms. Furchgott-Roth–to give her a forum is to insult her fellow Reuters columnists.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive
 

Quote: “people who Clear 250,000 a year are not small business owners. Most of the small business owners I know make profit of less than 100,000 and no where near 200,000.”

Who is talking a profit of $250,000 here. We are talking about taxing a gross income here, are we not?

Whatever, I will be moving to San Isidro del General, Costa Rica, where they won’t be having any wars, because they did away with the military long ago. A well to do middle class, with only a few oligarchy.

Posted by bill of texas | Report as abusive
 

It’s funny how things work. “We elect” our government, either republican or democrat to lead us into progress, and we “the people” end up paying with blood for all their erratic decisions, which only lead us to higher taxes. And while we’re paying more in taxes, we’re getting less in other vital services as health, security and education.

I think the solution is to reduce spending in things such as defense and top level government expenditures. I mean, after all, there is no other country in this world that has a more advanced and sophisticated armament than the US.

Also, big companies should get incentives to keep the jobs in this country, instead of charging them more in taxes, which only effect on companies is to out source jobs that we really need. After all, the more jobs that stay in the US, the more tax revenue there is.

Posted by rod | Report as abusive
 

Just so you know…Furchtgott-Roth is a right-wing proponent of trickle-down economics or Reaganomics. It is amazing how she brazenly distorts the example taxes to support her argument. There’s fine line between distortion and downright lying, and I think we’ve learned to tell the difference with 8 years of the Bush Administration.

Posted by JerryColorado | Report as abusive
 

Redistribution of wealth is not capitalism; it is socialism PERIOD. The “wealthy” pay more taxes already. Do you have any idea what it costs to get an education if you are white, middle class, and happen to own property?? Why then should we pay and pay again for those who choose not to get an education so they can earn more? Don’t tell me they can’t afford it because it’s free if you don’t have anything to begin with. When you have to work 2 jobs (with a college education) to put your kid through school – you are not rich, although the governement seems to think you are. A disparity in wealth should not be governentally controlled. It is a right as an American to succeed and EVERYONE has that opportunity. Look at the color of skin of our newest president. No more excuses. Get off your butt, go to school, get off welfare, and quit getting pregnant before you can afford to raise those kids.

Posted by Debbie | Report as abusive
 

Way to support upward mobility Obama!
Lets just tax the snot out of anyone who dares try and get ahead in this country.

But I guess someone has to pay the Piper for these outrageous bailouts – that have done next to nothing to actually increase the availability or affordability of credit in this country.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive
 

As another poster pointed out, this tax hits the lowest-income earning spouse.

It looks like you are trying to turn a tax increase into a feminist issue, which is highly ironic considering your premise is the sexist idea that women, naturally, always earn less that their husbands.

I think a false premise really negates most of your arguments.

Posted by Kristen A. i | Report as abusive
 

Apparently—– Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor is deaf or does not understand plain simple ENGLISH.
Obama has said no family making under 250,000 will see their taxes raised.
But I disagree with that too, I wish he would put ALL TAXES BACK TO WHERE THEY WERE IN 1993 WHEN CLINTON RAISED THE TAXES TO PAY DOWN THE MASSIVE REPUBLICAN DEBT AND WE HAD THE BEST EIGHT YEARS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY AND HE LEFT A SURPLUS INSTEAD OF A 290 BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT IN BUDGET WHICH HE INHERITED.

Posted by Carl Justus | Report as abusive
 

I don’t mind the taxes. I mind the worse-than-taxes-by-far amount paid to private Health Insurance simply to get some basic coverage. And if it’s family coverage, then it’s even worse. I would rather not be forced to pay hundreds of dollars to some private company that will fight every time I go for a check-up at the doctors or will simply refuse coverage, regardless of what says in the contract, or that it feels entitled to change the terms of coverage any time and way it sees fit.
Married couples are two exemptions, kids will entitle them to EIC per child, and they can choose to deduct expenses or get a good accountant to advise them on what to do.
But this private health insurance is giving me an ulcer and I’m strongly thinking it’s healthier to live without, save some money and get treatment overseas.
I rather pay some more in taxes to, hopefully, benefit me and the nation, than to pay private health insurance to benefit some corporate shark who dodges taxes and skins the clientele.
That is not to say that the tax system isn’t being milked for all it’s worth by some lower bracket smarts at the expense of the middle income earners and payers.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

If Rick is netting $160K from his business Jeanne has nothing to worry about. I don’t think a slight increase in her marginal tax rate is going to kill her.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

Yet another misguided piece (Reuters editors … you keep her on as a lighting rod…oh, now I get it).

Let’s ditch ALL tax deductions. There’s a reason the tax code is thicker than the Bible, it’s because a corrupt congress passed loophole after loophole in exchange for campaign contribution.

I say no deductions because they will always be subject to corruption.

Posted by gary | Report as abusive
 

Come on! Married couples should pay higher taxes on their combined income. THere are after all significant economies associated with getting together and living under one roof. Its equivalent to a substantial rise in income.

If women feel that the tax burden is falling disproportionately on them if they leave and reenter the workforce later. Perhaps they should get their husbands to give up their higher paying jobs and stay home to care for the kids. After all this IS the road to gender equality, and think of the reduction in their tax burden!!

emk

Posted by emk | Report as abusive
 

Its been said in many comments but it just boils down to two major problems with the article.
First. At 250k+ per year income, sure higher taxes will hurt your wallet but you aren’t exactly living near the poverty line and with modest spending habits can live quite comfortably relative to 95% of the world’s population so sorry boohoo not much sympathy there considering the current economic situation.
Second. The article is correct in that this will hit women disproportionately harder then men only because men tend to receive higher incomes, which is thankfully changing certainly not as fast as should be the case but progress is better then nothing. However this “problem” is also true for households where men make less then their spouse so really the issue is female income still being lower then males on average.

I rate the article maybe 2/10

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive
 

Is this lady crazy? I make 450K and my husband makes 90K and I’ve raised 3 children…OF course we should pay more taxes! I voted for Obama and I’m fine with his tax plan. For wealthy Americans, many of us dont care about being penalized by weighting on the upper end of the tax bracket…we care about wasteful spending. Tax is fine if its needed but building useless highways isnt.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

When they get married, they will be taxed at 33 percent —rising to 36 percent in 2011 if President Obama’s proposed tax hikes take effect.
——————-
This is not quite correct. Their whole salary won’t be taxed at 33% or 36%. Rather, using current numbers, the amount over $164,550 that is taxed at 33%.

I find this “25%”, “33%”, “36%” misleading because it is not the whole salary that is taxed at these amounts.

Posted by perk235 | Report as abusive
 

Is making 250K/couple a year really wealthy?

Well, it really depends on where do you live. For example if you live in San Francisco, where a average single house in a middle class neighborhood can cost you near 1 million. That’s around near 10k in mortgage alone each month. OK, what if you decided to rent it cost 2K-3K each month for a 3 bedroom flat. I know people who barely survive with combine income of 80K. With paying school tuition, living expense and all those rip off insurances(life, health, home, car)that we pay. It’s not as high income as it might sound. Yeah of course you not living in poverty but it’s not like you are rich and care free either. Once your spouse is out of a job, it’s struggling time.

But if you live in Oregon, Texas etc, and the average house cost 200K and your mortgage is around 1K. Now that’s Rich.

See the difference…. By all means all of you are right- it really depends on where you live.

We live only where there is a JOB

Posted by Yo | Report as abusive
 

The problem with Obama’s tax and the democrats tax philosophy is it discourages marriage, the bedrock to a stable society. Further, with the marriage penalty increasing the tax burden, there are fewer children born which naturally shrinks markets for all goods, thus reducing our economy’s vibrancy. It is no wonder that congress is made up of lawyers and not economists or accountants; that why we have such flawed policy. Need proof, just look at boy genius Barney Frank.

Posted by Robert G | Report as abusive
 

I always find these discussions comical. As Americans, you hardly pay any tax compared to the rest of the world. Complain about your taxes when you are paying 42.80% once your income goes over $70,000. Incomes over $126,000 how about 46.95%.

Stop complaining, you always want everything without having to pay for it, wake up. Pay your share.

Posted by Reg Craig | Report as abusive
 

You stated “Tax systems shouldn’t make it harder for women to work” . . . . sorry, your Logic fails me. Using your reasoning, you shouldn’t take a raise that puts you in a higher tax bracket. That is ludicrous! Fact is even in a higher tax the working “spouse” is adding to the families total household income.

Posted by scott_mich | Report as abusive
 

Reminds of when I was younger. Couples in the town I lived in, on the tax margin had a simple way of dealing with this. Couples separated, and lived next door to each other. This meant they had more money to live on.
Basically this tax is penalizing families, to the point it destroys them.

Posted by Frederick Clamens | Report as abusive
 

The concept of those with more contributing more is a divisive one. However when you look past the concept and look at the real numbers it makes perfect sense.

A teacher making $35K pays 25-30 percent in state and federal income taxes. Leaving her with less than $30K to live on. A higher income single female making less than $173K for argument sake working the same number of hours as the teacher would have about 115K to live on. Nearly 4 times as much to buy food, and the rest of the staples. There would be plenty of discretionary money for purchasing a house, buying a car, boat, vacation, etc.

Some will argue that the higher wage earner should only pay what the teacher has to pay about $6K. They would question why the higher wage earners should contribute more. Well, I would generally agree if not for the fact that the tax code is written in such a way as to give higher income earners access to all sorts of tax shelters. So the higher tax rate seems to be the only way to provide some fairness. Or is it?

Actually, I would love to see a one size fits all tax rate with zero deductions, tax shelters, etc. It would definitely ensure that we all pay the same percentage of our income toward the greater good of our Nation–whether it be highways, emergency relief, national defense, etc, etc. It would make projecting tax revenues for the government much easier from a year to year because without tax shelters, tax credits, and loopholes there would be much less mystery about how much income tax revenue should be collected/owed.

It would not be in the best interests of income tax return preparers, the IRS, tax shelter investments, etc, etc,. Some people would have to find transition to new jobs.

It may also jeopardize the government’s ability to influence innovation or other practices in our best interests like hybrid or fully electric vehicles, and the installation of better insulation, solar panels, or wind power. For it is through tax credits that these fledgling concerns get a bit of a boost at startup, or our national interests like reducing foreign oil consumption are encouraged.

The tax code is too complicated and it is ever growing so something like a flat tax makes total sense and would reduce government costs associated with managing the tax code or finding and enforcing tax return corrections.

If we do go for a flat tax, I think it is something that should be reduced in size and complexity over time.

So for now, the best way to even things out is to increase or really roll back some of the tax breaks given out in recent years. That we ask those who can afford to contribute a little more and still live a standard of living vastly different than the typical $35K wage earner to do so.

I would then suggest that the wealthiest wage earners review the situation and support a flat tax rate for everyone.

In some cases wealthy wage earners believe that they earn more because they were more innovative, smarter, had a stronger work ethic, etc, etc. But in most cases I think you will find that a typical higher wage earner owes his or her good fortunes more to birth than anything else. The geographic location, the existing wealth or influence of the family born into, and the access said family provided to higher education and subsequent high paying job connections.

It is quite evident that someone born into the slums of any city in the world, has a far taller mountain to climb to become a high wage earner than most of us. It is also quite evident that you can break through on occasion which the wealthy sometimes point to and say if one can do it they should all be able to do it. Therefore don’t ask me to carry a heavier load.

I like Melinda Gates, the wife of Bill Gates. What she basically said to Bill, is with great power (wealth and influence in this case not spider powers) comes great responsibility. Those who are better educated, wealthier, more powerful should be doing more to help the rest of society because they are the ones in the best position to do so.

I believe an innovator or startup business person has a right to want to have more take home money than those who do not take the risks. But I believe the system must be fair in the amount of tax taken from each dollar earned. If the wealthy have access to tax shelters and other loopholes that allow them to keep more of each dollar the system is unfair. Either the rate must be raised on the those with access to such loopholes or the loopholes must be closed and we switch to a flat rate tax.

Some will argue that if you tax the innovators or business startups equitably they will have less incentive. This is a false argument, there will always be an internal drive to innovate and create. Being taxed equitably is not going to change it. Those with drive to build will do so even if taxed at the same rate as the teacher. The wealthy have said for too long that if you don’t give me more of every dollar I won’t create jobs. And perhaps some wouldn’t but they would quickly be replaced by those who would. Bottom line is, the wealthy cannot remain wealthy unless they are on top of something, because if they are not on top of something they are like the teacher, a worker.

I believe the flat rate tax makes the most sense from an execution and equity perspective. I believe a more complicated tax code might be better for tailoring taxes to motivate certain types of innovation or savings. But the more complicated tax code should never be about giving some an unfair wealth advantage over others.

So, bottom line. Remember if you are currently in a position where the tax rate will be increased on your earnings that you most likely are in a position to invest your money in tax shelters, or at a minimum have a higher standard of living than the teacher who instructs your children. You may find yourself over extended and have to cut back but it will be no harder for you than the millions who have lost their jobs due to unethical and immoral practices on Wall Street. You simply are in a better position to help this country dig itself out of this economic debacle caused by deregulation, and greed.

Again, with great advantage comes great responsibility.

Posted by Garry | Report as abusive
 

Looking at some of the posts it is very apparent that the REAL ISSUE Diana is debating is Progressive tax. If you want to discuss the merits of and problems of a progressive tax system . . . you should just come out and say it. Trying to connect this to working mothers is just silly.

Posted by scott_mich | Report as abusive
 

You ain’t seen nothing yet! With our congress critters spending money like water, the only place to get revenue is to tax, tax, tax. You can’t tax the lower income folks, so guess what? Everyone with a decent income will be paying a lot more in the decades to come. We will likely see tax increases disguised as a tax code simplification package. Those with a little saved will be taxed with inflation.

 

Frederick Clamens:
Do you really expect me to believe that couples could SAVE money my separating and paying another mortgage? Either property was dirt cheap in the town you grew up in or those couples lied and actually didn’t like each other anymore. If they owned two houses right next to each other but didn’t “live” togther . . . I suspect the later.

Posted by scott_mich | Report as abusive
 

Several years ago when the “marriage tax” issue was in the news, the American Institute of CPA’s studied something like 128 provisions of taxation that had different results between married and singe people, some higher, some lower.

When I studied tax in college, we were told that at one time they taxed married taxpayers separately but taxpayers in community property states were taking the position that half of the income belonged to each. They could split the income to get a lower tax rate. Instead of outlawing that, Congress came up with the joint return to spread this benefit to those in other states. I believe this was back in the forties when there were a lot of families with just one wage earner.

 

“Get off your butt, go to school, get off welfare, and quit getting pregnant before you can afford to raise those kids.”

You mean like Sarah Palin’s daughter?

Posted by WAWA | Report as abusive
 

There seems to be no problem with wives claiming the total sum of the couple’s income as a joint marital asset in divorce court so why the difference in tax court?

As far as comments that tax policy discourages marriage, please share that with your LBGT community who do not yet have the privilege to marry. Let them know how happy they should be to be both wealthy and unmarried.

The taxes revert back to the Reagan levels of the 80′s as I understand it, these are not really an Obama tax increase as much as a sunset of regressive tax breaks for the wealthy. I have no sympathy for the wealthy who benefited from regressive tax policies of the past administration. Enough with the fantasy “Joe the Plumber” anecdotes. It’s time to pay your fair share.

I wish I had your problems.

Posted by L Johnson | Report as abusive
 

Have you looked at the math on the take home pay for this theoretical couple? If you put 401K and various insurance costs aside, this couples take home pay is just under $12,000 a month! That’s enough to make it in any city in this country. I understand they’re getting taxed higher but how much to you need?

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive
 

Democrats discourages marriage? Through taxes? If your combined income is over 200K and afraid to get married for slight increase in taxes, you shouldn’t get married in the first place. It’ll actually save you money in divorce proceedings later on.

Posted by Brian Choi | Report as abusive
 

Quote” “What I said is, and most economists would agree, regressive or flat taxation increases wealth disparity, and wealth disparity is the reason why wars naturally happen. No nation’s riches want catastrophic events, since in such scenario there is no ordinary political guarantee for them to have their wealth protected.”

What a heap!! Go wave your little red book somewhere else. Religion is the cause of wars, culture difference is the cause of wars, oil is the cause of wars, next, water will be the cause of wars.

Posted by bill in texas | Report as abusive
 

Dear Bill from Texas,

Money has always been the foundation of any conflict :) , don’t live so brainwashed. Even the mere existence of religion is to facilitate wealth distribution.

Posted by Ananke | Report as abusive
 

In response to “RA” and others who think that they are being punished for their educations and hard work: I’m actually in the top 1%, thanks to the education my husband and I received. Before you hurt yourself patting your own back, remember that there is a reason we choose to live together in society with other people. If you were given a public education, I helped pay for it, even though I get nothing in return for your edcucation. Similarly, I am paying for the clean water that comes from your pipes, the firefighter who saves your home, and the highways you drive on, without seeing any direct benefit to myself for all the money I’m spending for you. Those student loans you all are struggling to meet? I paid to subsidize the lenders you borrowed from, and if I hadn’t done so, you might never have been able to earn those “hard won” degrees. Yet, oddly enough, I and all the other taxpayers who have been carrying you through your life have never submitted a bill to you and your husband for all the benefits you enjoy every day. We are all in this life together. How do you propose we pay for the many blessings you have become so accustomed to that you don’t even notice them anymore? I help you afford them, and you help everybody else afford theirs. Think back to that time you decided to pursue your degrees and at least be honest to yourself: would the knowledge that your tax bracket might have been raised really have convinced you not to continue your education? By accepting as gospel the so-called ‘facts’ spewed out at you by people like Ms. Roth, you are carrying the water for companies that have nothing in common with you, in the hope that someday you, too could be rich. Stop currying favor with people whose economic interests are completely opposit to your own. The truly wealthy don’t really want your company.

Posted by LS | Report as abusive
 

I marvel at the arguments over the notion of a progressive
tax system…the whining from the “free lunch bunch” never
ends. I pay taxes, my neighbors pay taxes and YOU should
pay taxes too. The suggestions for draft legislation that
the President and the Congress have submitted are reasonable, and I believe that they should be adopted.

Posted by darlene | Report as abusive
 

The overall argument to tax members of the household as individuals was good and appealing. But the attempt to give a feminist twist to the whole argument was quite disgusting.

Posted by andy | Report as abusive
 

maybe a move to just everyone just entering into a “civil union” would be in order.

we could all go back to the good ole days of Ike and the top bracket could be taxed 90%.

Posted by eisenhower | Report as abusive
 

First of all, mothers aren’t the only ones that stay home these days, so the glass ceiling argument doesn’t apply here. My wife made more money, so I stayed home for 5 years. She would have gladly traded places with me if she could.
Secondly, marriage is the joining of two separate entities that the law recognizes as one. There are many benefits to this arrangement, so why is it so bad that we are taxed as one?
I don’t agree with income tax as a whole, but not because it discriminates against married people. It seems counter-productive to pay the government to work and to pay the government more if you are fortunate enough to be successful in your job.

Posted by Chad | Report as abusive
 

I just discovered that the tax system is taking 78% of my working effort in federal and state taxes. I’ve run our 2009 estimated taxes if I work through the end of 2009. Then I ran the estimated tax if I cease working in August. My income is reduced, but family taxes are reduced (33% bracket back to 28%) so that the net effect of my working is that my family gets to keep only 22% of my hourly rate. This is a MAJOR ISSUE. I feel like marching on Washington screaming at the top of my lungs! I did what I thought society wanted, went to college and worked hard. Married a college educated man and manage 3 children. We founded two companies (job creation) and I am burnt out and or what? My mother stayed home and my father (did not attend college), and my standard of living is not yet what I grew up with. The President needs to attempt to live in California before he decides $250K is rich. He should also study the time value of money. I’m sure my $260K is not the equivalent of $70K in 1970. I’m quitting. I’m taking my life back for a while. The Presidents threat for 2011 means that this horrible penalty to working wives will only get worse. One of those companies we spent the last 15 years on sought to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical) career choices in our youth. It has remained a continued disappointment to me that females were so under-represented in our programs (thirty boys and maybe one girl). Now I believe that we were wrong. Society is really not ready for women (wives) in force in the workplace (or were the old male lawyers giggling at what this type of policy would do)?
Paying my fair is fine, but getting to keep only 22% (I did not go into the AMT/SSN complications in that analysis) so it is probably worse, is ludicrous. The national media needs to focus attention on this issue. I have long known it was an issue but I did not know it was this bad. Most women probably don’t either. It was a long and arduous spreadsheet calculation, difficult for me, and I am an Excel Master. I advise all wives to contact a tax professional and forecast their family’s tax liability for the year then repeat the forecast as if they were not working. Compare the difference to your income. Is it worth it? See how keeping the tax code so complicated hides facts from us? MAD! FURIOUS! I am opting out.

Posted by Denise Burke | Report as abusive
 

No country lasts long with a continuing huge wealth disparity and the majority of its citizens struggling simply to survive. Pretending that we’re different from all other historical examples is silly. The right-wingers willfully ignore this issue and simply say “to hell with the rest.” What will happen when “the rest” is 90% of your own country? Do you honestly think you have enough shells for your constitutionally-protected assault rifle to kill that many “deserving” people when the riots start … ?

As for the left, do you think that by increasing government income through taxes creates effective government? Get over yourselves! I knew a government worker with a TV in her office so she could watch the daytime soaps, and she’s not exceptional by any stretch. What percentage of that tax revenue do you think makes it through the juggernaut of government bureaucracy to actually do anything useful?

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive
 

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