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Old 03-02-2009, 08:29 AM   #21
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I noticed on my recent paycheck that I'm already getting a federal tax break.

Honestly, I'd be ok paying MORE taxes, provided that they are spent more responsibly. Used for things our country actually needs.....
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:02 AM   #22
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Hmmm, of the 240k or so of income we had last year, I paid about 40% of income taxes. After everything (retirements, social security, healthcare, etc... and such), I brought home aboout 8k per month. What is that x12? 96k? Hmm... Take mortgages out, 1 car payment, and some furniture, and of course food, and I'm at break even.

Yay America!
I got laid off three weeks ago. My rent and student loan payments are due tonight, my cell phone bill was due a week ago, and I have a grand total of 48 cents in my bank account.

You can stuff your whining about only having $96,000 in disposable income right up your you-know-what.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:08 AM   #23
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Hmmm, of the 240k or so of income we had last year, I paid about 40% of income taxes. After everything (retirements, social security, healthcare, etc... and such), I brought home aboout 8k per month. What is that x12? 96k? Hmm... Take mortgages out, 1 car payment, and some furniture, and of course food, and I'm at break even.

Yay America!
Looks like the war in Iraq has been good to you.
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Old 03-02-2009, 04:24 PM   #24
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I've got a pretty low mortgage payment, probably less than most on this board.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, whether we, combined make 240k a year, or 50k a year) it seems the same to me -- that at the end of the day, taxes are a great equalizer. That there simply is a point, where it makes more sense to make less.

AliEnvy -- Much of my time in Iraq was donated, without pay, in fact the entire last month I was there.

DaveC, I'm terribly sorry for your situation. I've been there before, and who knows, might be there again, but what level of taxation do you advocate? Do you want everyone to have the same income?
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Old 03-02-2009, 04:27 PM   #25
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I guess the point I'm trying to make is, whether we, combined make 240k a year, or 50k a year) it seems the same to me. That at the end of the day, taxes are a great equalizer. That there simply is a point, where it makes more sense to make less.
Yeah I hear this argument a lot.

Would you be willing to live on $50K/year instead?

I can only speak for myself but I'd rather pay my 46% of tax and stay in my lofty income bracket than go down to living on $40K. If you feel differently, I don't think it would be difficult for you to take a job that's low paying.
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Old 03-02-2009, 04:43 PM   #26
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Yeah, Anitram, I understand. I also do some of this through charity and donations, but those at least, are choices that we make.

There are a few things that I would like you all to consider about this...

1) When we talk about raising the taxes on certain indivuals, (above certain income levels)etc... that we have some of those people as part of the discussion here. We really get behind the whole 'let's stick it to those guys' thing is a bit scary. The argument can't simply be "yeah, but since you make more you can pay more". It's really a twisted logic. I'm happy to pay more by virtue of making more, but not to exponentially crank up the percentage.

2) We don't get a lot of breaks in this category. At a certain point, we don't get the deductions, the write-offs, the tax breaks -- they just GO AWAY. I love those moments in turbo tax....they try to explain it to you in such polite terms too. Things like college -- I will pay a higher 'percentage' of my income for my kids' college. Why? Because I can. Seems fair right? When the family next to you gets to go at a 50% discount, or even free because of a variety of reasons.

I don't mean to whine, just want a chance to be represented, and heard.
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Old 03-02-2009, 05:02 PM   #27
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i think you should take a look at what the overall societal costs would be if your taxes were cut and overall revenue went down.

i'm guessing your kids probably have the option of good public schools, and i'm also guessing that the police probably keep your neighborhood pretty safe so you don't have to sleep on the floor for fear of a bullet crashing through the window. i bet your kids also benefit from being able to get lots of one-on-one time with other caring adults via arts, music, sports, extra tutoring. chances are, your kids are going to be just fine.

is it so bad that the family who makes $65K gets some deductions or a refund that they can then use to put towards whatever things might help their kids grow up well? or do you want it all to be fair, and then their kids through lack of a variety of things set up a crystal meth lab in the basement.

society treats you well -- should you not treat society well in return?

i suppose the bigger thing is the sense that you have, through your own merit, "earned" that $240K. have you? no one helped you earn that? you weren't given advantages through sheer luck of the birth lottery enabled you to make an income like that? it was all elbow grease and gumption? and not to say that you don't have both, but i think that there are people who make only $40K who have every bit the talent and work ethic that you do, but due to a variety of circumstance beyond their control, they have not had the opportunities afforded to you by ... taxes.
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Old 03-02-2009, 05:16 PM   #28
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There are a few things that I would like you all to consider about this...

1) When we talk about raising the taxes on certain indivuals, (above certain income levels)etc... that we have some of those people as part of the discussion here. We really get behind the whole 'let's stick it to those guys' thing is a bit scary. The argument can't simply be "yeah, but since you make more you can pay more". It's really a twisted logic. I'm happy to pay more by virtue of making more, but not to exponentially crank up the percentage.
I'm one of those individuals and I fully support raising taxes on MYSELF as well. And the progressive tax rate that we are exposed to is not exponential, or anything close to that. That is a word that gets thrown around for impact.

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2) We don't get a lot of breaks in this category. At a certain point, we don't get the deductions, the write-offs, the tax breaks -- they just GO AWAY.
Except that we can also afford good tax planning that is out of the reach of pretty much the entire middle class. Who here is ready to pay a tax lawyer at a large corporate firm some $600-700/hr (and those are just your junior partners I might add) to do their tax planning? The amount of income saved by this means is enormous, and let us not forget the time value of money that we benefit from by deferring certain taxes which you can only do if you have a proper investment base and adequate legal advice or a very good accountant.

I don't know about your social circles, but in mine, you'd be hard pressed to find ANYBODY who is in the highest 46% tax bracket who is not paying substantially less tax by structuring their affairs in the (financially) best possible way.
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Old 03-02-2009, 05:37 PM   #29
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Things like college -- I will pay a higher 'percentage' of my income for my kids' college. Why? Because I can. Seems fair right? When the family next to you gets to go at a 50% discount, or even free because of a variety of reasons.

I don't mean to whine, just want a chance to be represented, and heard.
OK, this may be off topic but I want to touch on this. I think my parents would have given their right arms to help us through college. It's something we never really talked about because I presume it's rather disheartening as a parent to NOT be able to help in some way, but it is what it is. The public school in our district is downright dangerous and I won't even get into their academic standards. So my parents lived in a shithole for years and poured everything into our elementary and secondary education (which costs more than many colleges/universities and there is no FAFSA or grants helping with that). My husband and I are nearly one hundred thousand dollars in debt with three degrees between the two of us. I pay more in rent per month than my parents may on their mortgage in a house that I could be perfectly happy in for 20 years, not to mention the student loan payments, and yet, even *we* can manage above break even. Granted, we drive lemons and do not live above (more like below) our means. I pay my bills on time, I have decent health insurance, I get some paid vacation, and I have enough money to enjoy my dogs and my other hobbies like photography and impromptu road tripping. Yes, I just got a tax break on my paycheck but I didn't need that to survive. I will assume based on your statement that you CAN afford to pay or help pay for your childrens' educations and based on that alone I would say that I know dozens of people and parents who would trade places with you in a minute, taxes and all, if it's such a burden.
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Old 03-02-2009, 05:55 PM   #30
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Except that we can also afford good tax planning that is out of the reach of pretty much the entire middle class.
Something like this is true of college financial aid as well; when I was in college I had several classmates whose parent(s) made considerably more than mine, yet got more aid because they'd been able to afford expert advice on the various ways of tweaking the system. I would love it if my kids don't wind up having to work full-time throughout college and any grad school (plus years of debt afterwards) like I did--I had no social life, which I think is regrettable--but still, ultimately the education is the most important thing, so if that's what happens, that's what happens.
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Old 03-02-2009, 06:18 PM   #31
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Irvine,

Agree with everything you say... and I am comfortable with giving more...

But your quote below...

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suppose the bigger thing is the sense that you have, through your own merit, "earned" that $240K. have you? no one helped you earn that? you weren't given advantages through sheer luck of the birth lottery enabled you to make an income like that? it was all elbow grease and gumption? and not to say that you don't have both, but i think that there are people who make only $40K who have every bit the talent and work ethic that you do, but due to a variety of circumstance beyond their control, they have not had the opportunities afforded to you by ... taxes.
really sets off the conservative in me. In fact, what you say above, is I guess, exactly why I am conservative. I come from very humble beginnings. We never had a house, and my parents worked very hard for every penny they had. We grew our own food, hunted, and lived very frugally. They were essentially share croppers during one shift, and laborers another. Even with that lifestyle, we still didn't get any grants or subsidies for my bi-directional state school, only loans.

It's hard for me to describe, but it was the driving force behind me working so hard early in my career. All I really had was some ingenuity and a massive drive to my name. And that is why I feel uncomfortable sometimes, giving it back in the form of taxes.

I remember reading the article recently about U2 being berated for moving their royalties corporation to the Netherlands to avoid higher tax in Ireland. I thought to myself, what a bunch of wankers.

How's the song go? And you become a wanker so the wanker will not break you... yeah that's it.

I'm finding myself in the wanker category here.
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Old 03-02-2009, 06:20 PM   #32
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Anitram -- we obviously run in different circles. I am stubbornly DIY even with investing and taxes. TurboTax is 50 bucks. I'm not looking for loopholes, just fairness. Naivete' rules.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:11 PM   #33
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I come from very humble beginnings. We never had a house, and my parents worked very hard for every penny they had. We grew our own food, hunted, and lived very frugally. They were essentially share croppers during one shift, and laborers another. Even with that lifestyle, we still didn't get any grants or subsidies for my bi-directional state school, only loans.

It's hard for me to describe, but it was the driving force behind me working so hard early in my career. All I really had was some ingenuity and a massive drive to my name.
I can understand those feelings of drivenness. My parents didn't own our house until I was maybe 12 or so, and it was a little place, 7 people in 4 smallish no-frills rooms--though this was still a lot better than what many people in the mostly small-farming town we lived in had, so I never considered my family 'really poor' at the time. And we grew a lot of our own food too; my siblings and I all have lots of memories of helping our mother can, dry, and cellar stuff from the garden (though by and large I enjoyed that part, still do some of it actually--I don't miss washing clothes in the bathtub, though!). By the time I graduated from high school my father had died and my mother had been supporting me, my younger brother and sister for two-and-a half years herself, with me babysitting for free 30 hours a week while she worked afternoons and evenings to pay the rent on the small one-bedroom apartment we'd had to relocate to. My mother would've preferred me to remain at home and attend college part-time for a couple years, both so she wouldn't have to resort to asking friends to help out with my siblings and also because maybe by then she'd be able to help me out with tuition a little, but I wanted nothing more than to get AWAY from that situation and be independent, so I was very driven about both my schoolwork and my job in college (I was managing a flagship store of a major retailer 'on the side' by the time I was working on my doctorate).

Now I certainly do accept that no one forced me to choose a less-than-lucrative career (academia); I went into it fully aware that I'd almost certainly never get wealthy this way--though obviously I'm not an 'underachiever,' or else I wouldn't have a PhD and tenure. But I don't feel I'm 'entitled' to a high standard of living on account of having a demanding job and holding advanced professional credentials, either; I do what I do primarily because I find it fulfilling, and I expect others to aim for the same, even if that's a question of choosing work you 'like OK and it pays the bills' while seeking fulfillment in non-work-related things, an outlook that many people I know from welders to doctors happen to have. I have no problem with the incentive the bigger paychecks and prestige associated with certain careers provide, with fundamental meritocracy; you wouldn't get enough people staying the course of the preparation and sacrifice many of those jobs require otherwise. But there's a limit to how far that dynamic can go while still maintaining a just society that allows everyone a fair shot at advancing up the socioeconomic ladder (not to mention a fair shot at ensuring everyone's children have those opportunities, too)...and without having too many less-than-lucrative careers wind up meaning chronic hand-to-mouth desperation despite a solid work ethic and sound personal budgeting, or 'deserved' disdain from 'entitled' better-off folks for having been too 'lazy' to choose the sort of highly profitable career that could never comprise more than a minority niche of the total economy anyway. I can't think of a better way than a progressive tax system to balance these values off against each other.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:36 PM   #34
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Well said Yolland.

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have no problem with the incentive the bigger paychecks and prestige associated with certain careers provide, with fundamental meritocracy; you wouldn't get enough people staying the course of the preparation and sacrifice many of those jobs require otherwise
In addition to this, there is the magic of innovation that we must reward as well. Be it in art or science, that special thing that inventors get for moving our society forward.

I'm ok now, as long as that progressive tax structure doesn't kill that spark.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:45 PM   #35
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I don't have any problems with uneven distributions of wealth, some people making 10 times as much as others, etc. I don't believe in salary caps either. I believe I am paid fairly for the work that I do and the amount of education I needed to do the job I do. Where I live there were two guys who started a company in their garage and now are worth more than 3x Donald Trump and I respect them for building their company and also their philanthropy (we have arenas, schools, children's hospitals, convention centers because of them). I'm not one to knock someone else down just because they have something I don't.

Taxes aside, I just still can't see how people making even half of what Phil and I make have no problem breaking even when people making a quarter mil' complain about breaking even. To me that implies irresponsible spending, or unnecessary spending which would have nothing to do with how much someone is being taxed. Maybe I'm too hung up on that part of this thread...
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:10 PM   #36
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Liesje -- well if you dig deeper there is more to the story obviously...

I take out 15% for my 401k. I also take out another 10% for charity. I also save another 15% for college for 2 children (remember, I'll be fully responsible). I also help several family members on a steady basis (going through a divorce, etc...)

And the car payment... I usually pay cash for used cars, but I splurged a bit and got a loan for a badly needed car after my deployment, still used though, only paid for half of it up front.

I just refinanced our house, and cut 15 years off the loan, but at 4.2% interest, so the payments hardly went up.

So, at the end of the day, I don't have a lot of discretionary funds left, but I make the most of trying to pay our way in society (retirement, college, housing).

Does that satisfy the urge to call it irresponsible?
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:12 PM   #37
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In fact, what you say above, is I guess, exactly why I am conservative. I come from very humble beginnings. We never had a house, and my parents worked very hard for every penny they had. We grew our own food, hunted, and lived very frugally. They were essentially share croppers during one shift, and laborers another. Even with that lifestyle, we still didn't get any grants or subsidies for my bi-directional state school, only loans.

It's hard for me to describe, but it was the driving force behind me working so hard early in my career. All I really had was some ingenuity and a massive drive to my name. And that is why I feel uncomfortable sometimes, giving it back in the form of taxes.
It is funny how two people can come to different conclusions.

My family was a refugee family. We were homeless and had nothing but the clothes on our backs and each other. My father at one point had 3 jobs to support us in a country whose language he didn't speak so that he would never be able to get past manual labour. My Mom was far luckier and today she teaches at one of the best universities in the world. But it took time to get there. My brother and I are both very highly educated, as my parents insisted and we wanted anyway, but it came at a cost. I certainly built up sizeable student loans, but at the same time I went to great schools and got multiple degrees so I viewed it as an investment.

I know very well what a difficult life is and what it is like to start life out in a hole compared to everyone else around you. Nothing but determination and hard work and a strong spirit brought me where I am today. But I don't want other people to go through as much struggle and I want to be able to carry the weight now that I can. If that means paying more taxes, please tax me, so that the people who are below me on the ladder climbing up don't have to live the same hardships as I did as a little girl. I have a very good life right now, it's my honour and I believe my duty to carry more weight than those who don't. Period.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:21 PM   #38
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I just refinanced our house, and cut 15 years off the loan, but at 4.2% interest, so the payments hardly went up.
I don't think anyone is having a go at you, but again, no-one on an average income could possibly afford to do this. People are talking about $40k a year as though it is an extremely low income but in many states in the US and in almost all countries it is probably above average!
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:23 PM   #39
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:25 PM   #40
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Anitram,

The struggle defines me, and is what I think is very important in life. It's similar to my faith -- it's the struggle that refines...

Your thoughts are very interesting and I'd like to explore them more. Do your parents feel the same way as you? About taxes and such?
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