View Poll Results: Do you pay income tax?

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Thread: Income Tax?

  1. #31
    void Anita Blake's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by dark fuschia View Post
    Australia's economy is suffering more than people thought it would at first. I suppose because China is suffering and I guess China is suffering cos the US is suffering. At first everyone here was a bit "Oh HAHAH! SUCK EGGS AMERICA!" cos you know, it's always fun to see the tall poppy get cut down, and economists kept saying on TV "We'll be fine cos of our strong economic links with Asia." All I can say now is... HAHAH SUCK EGGS AUSTRALIA!!
    ditto in Canada. Pretty much exactly. Our idiot PM (during the election) was all "la la la, our banks are awesome, there's totally no problem here!" and the idiots re-elected him, and now he's like "well, actually, it turns out that our economy is directly tied to America's, and we are not unlike a mob stooge, while america is the cement block that is now dragging us down to a watery grave. Let us continue to deregulate everything, if only to prove to the mobsters that we are seriously on their side, they don't need to do this, oh for the love of all that is holy, don't do this to us!"

    (or something like that way...)
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  2. #32

    Default Re: Income Tax?

    *shrugs* It will get better. Wait 5 or 10 years. A lot of people who weren't wise about things will get screwed over, but that's about it.

    Ender

  3. #33
    Quick! To the Volcano! High House Moon Eyreplenh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Is this the part where I say ""Haha!" ?(like the simpsons kid)

    We still have our dirty little black fountains, so we're holding up quite well here. But basically, since most of us are idiots, we are doing our part to increase the impact of the recession. The politicians have been all over crying out to people to please act normal, but there's already been a marked setback in consumer spending, thus making the whole unemployment issue speedup.

    I don't know what this crisis is going to mean for the world. One member of the government is very excited about it and hopes that it will bring around a more "sound" way of life, that's a bit better for our planet, and it's alway okay to hope I guess. But mostly what I think is we have a long way, a terribly long way still to fall before it's time to climb out again. Thing will become...interesting, if nothing else, I suspect.
    High Marshal of Decadence


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  4. #34

    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anita Blake View Post
    Of course, I kind of like the idea of a flat tax - everybody pays 10% (or whatever percent you like) on all income and/or all purchases. I guess this is bad for low-earners, but I just kind of like the way it sounds.
    I agree w/ AB. A flat rate tax on everyone sounds like the way to go. Not really so bad on the low-earners even, cuz 10% of nothing is still nothing. I also agree that handing out money you don't earn may not be a way of stimulating the economy though. We have areas where there are 5 generations of govt housing dwellers - not much stimulating going on there. On the other hand (like AB) unemployment insurance is low enough to make ME want to find a better paying job AND it is taxed as well.

  5. #35
    King Sloth High House Chaos sir archely's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    A flat tax rate is basically a regressive tax; one that punishes the poor and rewards the wealthy. It sounds good and equal and fair on the surface, but there are a lot of problems with it. For a very simple example, take a 10% flat tax. Just the simple math: If I make $10,000 per year, then I'm paying $1000 per year in taxes. If i make $100,000 per year, then i'm paying $10,000 per year in taxes. Maybe it seems fair, but in actual life, for the $10K earner, that thousand dollars represents a huge burden based on how they can actually use their money. The cost of necessities remains the same, regardless of the rate of taxation. For the $100k earner, even though the tax rate is the same, $90K is still more than enough to make a nice living, based on the cost of shelter, food, etc. The basic value of the dollar effectively decreases the more you have. The disparity obviously increases the higher income you go. 10% of $10 million is a lot of money, but the drop in income from $10mil to $9mil is not nearly as significant to someone's quality of life as the drop from $10k to $9k.

    "Flat Tax" schemes that establish a floor for taxable earnings A)aren't really flat tax schemes and B) simply shift the argument slightly, not changing the fact that flat taxes favor the wealthy over the not so wealthy. Generally these schemes shift the burden of taxation to the middle-class. We already have too many tax provisions designed to benefit the wealthy, let's not advocate another.
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  6. #36
    ~sigh~ High House Dawn Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    I grew up in a low income household, the smallest emergency required fast cash and it basically screws a whole family out of anything besides the very basics needed to survive for the year. I wouldn't want to wish that on anyone, and having taxes be the defacto for such a scenario is beyond cruel.

    I'm all in favor of tax brackets. Low end paying near nothing and the top end topping off at whatever, depending on the amount of money needed for the year. Seriously, if you're making over 200k, 10% extra tax is about 20k. Yes, that is a lot, but 180k clean is a hell of a lot more.

    Besides, a flat tax of 10% would bankrupt the US. The bulk of the government's money comes from the richer bracket, which pays at noticeably higher percent. Dropping down to 10% would gut all our infrastructure. City and state taxes would soar way. Imagine a 25% sales tax.
    I wanna be like a goose and fly to new orleans for the winter and to canada for the summer.

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  7. #37
    High Roller High House Moon Dregs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    The argument for flat tax is that reduces tax evasion by the wealthy and increases tax revenue. Or so it goes. A brief squizz at wikipedia doesn't neccesarily support this.
    (I told you it was a mistake to let me have a signature.)

  8. #38
    Quick! To the Volcano! High House Moon Eyreplenh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck View Post
    Imagine a 25% sales tax.
    Like we have in Norway! Cheers!

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  9. #39
    King Sloth High House Chaos sir archely's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dregs View Post
    The argument for flat tax is that reduces tax evasion by the wealthy and increases tax revenue. Or so it goes. A brief squizz at wikipedia doesn't neccesarily support this.

    This is something similar to what I was referring to earlier in the thread. Arguments for flat tax or tax reduction on corporations/wealthy that suggest that these alternatives would be desirable because they lesson the motivation for those parties to cheat on their taxes seem misguided to me. How about simply eliminating the considerable amount of loopholes they enjoy and coming down hard on those who evade, instead of merely slapping them on the wrist. From what I understand, at the current time, the situation is such that a cost-benefit analysis for many of these companies shows that the fines and penalties that occur on the chance they are caught are more than justified by the direct savings and profits gained by cheating. It's just the cost of doing business.
    I have given pleasure to the world because I have such a beautiful ass!

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  10. #40

    Default Re: Income Tax?

    While I agree that flat taxes are an exceedingly poor idea, I think we should be cautious about making taxation too progressive. The US enjoys fairly low taxation, even for the wealthy (something like 37% is the top bracket), and it should stay at a relatively low level. In some countries the government spends more than half of the GDP, which is ridiculous and exceedingly wasteful (there's a reason we have such high GDP per capita and growth). The problems with the US' system still abound, though.

    I'd say the biggest problem is that tax brackets aren't indexed to inflation. That means that the highest bracket for income taxes starts at something like $250k/year for a family. For 37% taxes (roughly; it will probably slightly increase with Obama), we're talking about $92k in federal taxes. Depending on where you live, you'll also be paying state taxes - in Maryland, where I currently file, that will work out to ~7% additional, so you're paying about $110k in taxes, leaving you with $140k in actual income.

    Suddenly $250k isn't looking like so much any more, eh? My fiance's income combined with my stipend comes out to ~$60k after taxes, so a family 'making' $250k (more than three times our pretax earnings) are actually only pulling in about twice what we bring in with 1.5 jobs right out of college (graduate school not really counting as a real job). Now, $140k went a lot farther a decade or two ago than it does today; now it will just about cover a mortgage, investing for retirement, and paying for a few kids. Let's not even think about sending them to a pricey university.

    Point being that it's easy to say we should tax the rich a bit more, but we need to be careful on just how much more we do that for those in the bottom of the 'rich' brackets. It's a good argument to make for billionaires (though most of their riches aren't even taxable, as they're tied up in investments and not income or capital gains), but not such a good one for people in the upper middle class. An intelligent reworking of the system would set the tax brackets a little bit more carefully and then index them to inflation - not only will it keep the middle class/upper middle class from being squeezed by creeping tax rates, but it will also help those at the very bottom from suddenly losing their tax status due to inflation (e.g. to get the earned income tax breaks/etc.). We also need to drastically reform the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was targeted at the really rich but has actually seriously hurt the 'well off, but not yet wealthy' group.

    For that matter, they've been talking about increasing the capital gains taxes. While a modest increase is perfectly reasonable (currently the levels are pretty low), they're talking about making this also progressive - i.e. my overall income determines how much tax I pay on the *same* amount of money made off of sale of a stock as a poorer individual. This seriously discourages certain types of investment for the wealthy, which is a bad idea and will contribute towards falling capital levels. It also has the usual unintended consequences of punishing people who save up significant amounts for retirement - their capital gains taxes will be pretty punishing.

    Obviously, this hardly militates for a flat tax, but rather for a measured, carefully designed, organic progressive tax that allows for significant upward mobility while maintaining some balance in the tax payments. A nice addition would be some fiscal responsibility in the government to reduce the incredible amount of tax money wasted. Interest on the debt is somewhere on the order of 15% of tax receipts (last year it was $451 billion; it's unclear what this year will be given the extraordinary measures in TARP, stimulus package, and more). If the interest payments were decreased to a more manageable quantity (say, 2% of the budget), we could drop tax rates by a few percent - or, more realistically, actually fund the programs that need funding. Of course, such a reduction would require finding about $9 trillion somewhere, which isn't bloody likely. But the savings are exponential - as soon as a small bit of the principle is paid off, interest (~4%) is further reduced, freeing up just a bit more cash to plow into paying off more principle or funding government programs. It needn't be that much - $50 billion a year would bring the debt to $2 trillion within ~50 years (very very roughly). Obviously, tough economic times would necessitate cutting the payment to strictly interest, but this could be offset by bumper years. And that's assuming we don't increase the payments at all, but just leave them at ~$500 billion a year! Given the steady increase in the size of the US economy and tax receipts, that would be an increasingly smaller portion of our budget as the years pass.

    Combine this with some serious housecleaning on the spending side of things (Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security reform and overhauling defense procurement are the two big ones), and we could end up with a government that functions the way it's supposed to - while still keeping taxes low and providing good services.

    Ah, if only I ran the world...

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    Last edited by wiggin; April 21st, 2009 at 00:36.

  11. #41
    major major major major dark fuschia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    I agree with wiggin on this one. The way tax brackets are structured really do place an unreasonable burden on medium to high income earners. High income earners often work extremely long hours, have more responsibilities and sacrifice years of their life to study/career development etc and then find after tax they are still pulling only slightly more than someone who works only forty hours a week in a less skilled proffesion. It's annoying.

    There are also those in unskilled professions who do shift work with lots of overtime or are earning danger money etc. People can earn alot this way. Taxes can really make the poverty trap harder for an unskilled person to get out of, making it harder for them to gain capital to invest in education/family/home etc.

    I think brackets are a good idea to an extent (let us get our hands on some of that pie) but it should be evenly graded (rather than brackets) and a much gentler curve I say!

  12. #42
    King Sloth High House Chaos sir archely's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I'd say the biggest problem is that tax brackets aren't indexed to inflation. That means that the highest bracket for income taxes starts at something like $250k/year for a family. For 37% taxes (roughly; it will probably slightly increase with Obama), we're talking about $92k in federal taxes. Depending on where you live, you'll also be paying state taxes - in Maryland, where I currently file, that will work out to ~7% additional, so you're paying about $110k in taxes, leaving you with $140k in actual income.

    Suddenly $250k isn't looking like so much any more, eh? My fiance's income combined with my stipend comes out to ~$60k after taxes, so a family 'making' $250k (more than three times our pretax earnings) are actually only pulling in about twice what we bring in with 1.5 jobs right out of college (graduate school not really counting as a real job). Now, $140k went a lot farther a decade or two ago than it does today; now it will just about cover a mortgage, investing for retirement, and paying for a few kids. Let's not even think about sending them to a pricey university.
    I actually agree with much of what you were saying, wiggin, but I think you have a seriously skewed view of how far $140k will take you. Looking at simple numbers for how much is recommended you spend on housing as a percentage of your income, that level should allow you to fairly easily afford buying a house in the $300k - $400k level. Looking in Palo Alto, CA, one of the most expensive housing markets around, I find 40 houses for sale that are 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath and fall in that range. Most places you buy, it'll buy you a lot more house than that even. $140k is more than enough to live a very nice lifestyle. I agree it will not take you as far as it used to, but it's not as if this is a terrible level of income.

    Lets also keep in mind that as a percentage, only a little less than 6% of households in the US even bring in an annual income greater than $150k. And half of that 6% is in the $150k to $200k range. So i'm not exactly crying for these upper upper middle class elite earners.
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  13. #43
    ~sigh~ High House Dawn Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    You also side stepped 401ks and the like. All that stuff is tax free. Realistically, if you are making 250k, you are not being taxed on a significant portion of it.


    Now, how that money the government takes get used is another issue entirely. *eyeballs the bailouts*
    Last edited by Buck; April 21st, 2009 at 11:06.
    I wanna be like a goose and fly to new orleans for the winter and to canada for the summer.

    Gaidin to Amelia. She is the bomb. And the keeper of satan's nose. Acually, all I have now is her right nostril...

  14. #44

    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by sir archely View Post
    I actually agree with much of what you were saying, wiggin, but I think you have a seriously skewed view of how far $140k will take you. Looking at simple numbers for how much is recommended you spend on housing as a percentage of your income, that level should allow you to fairly easily afford buying a house in the $300k - $400k level. Looking in Palo Alto, CA, one of the most expensive housing markets around, I find 40 houses for sale that are 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath and fall in that range. Most places you buy, it'll buy you a lot more house than that even. $140k is more than enough to live a very nice lifestyle. I agree it will not take you as far as it used to, but it's not as if this is a terrible level of income.
    Heh, well my guess is you've never had kids. A postdoc in my lab has only two kids, and their financial situation is extraordinarily stressed. Her husband is a professor, so figure that they're probably pulling in ~$120k-150k pretax with her postdoc salary - it'll be closer to $200k pretax in another year when she moves into her faculty position (which she already has promised). Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Wrong. They are currently scrounging around to buy a house in the school district they want their kids to grow up in, and even the cheapest houses are pushing 400-500k. They don't have enough savings for a significant downpayment, and with the freeze in the credit markets, they can't get a decent mortgage. Add that to upwards of $30k in daycare (IIRC per child but I honestly don't remember for sure), food/transportation/healthcare/etc. for a family of 4, and you're looking at a very tight financial situation. They're better than most in that both of them have decent job security and have to save extremely little for their kids college tuitions (Johns Hopkins, like most upper-level private schools, offers their faculty's children free tuition at JHU and steeply subsidized tuition anywhere else), so any saving they do manage to get in there is going to be for retirement and not kids. But even so, they're very stressed - despite the fact that their family income puts them in a fairly high tax bracket. They can't even think about any other kids until they're older, and they put in a minimum of 60-80 hour weeks as young academics. It's not easy. Sure, it's easier than the Joe Shmoes of the world pulling in minimum wage (I'm doing that voluntarily for 5-6 years and it sucks). But for parents who want to raise their children responsibly and plan for retirement, these numbers are really not that ridiculously high.

    Obviously the $250k household should pay more percentage tax than a $20k household. But should it pay the same percentage as a $900k household? I think not. Making a million dollars a year is an entirely different ballpark than making a couple hundred thousand. If both spouses are college graduates and working (my assumption for most people here), odds are they're making at least $100k in combined income if not quite a bit more. It doesn't go as far as it used to.

    Maybe I'm biased - I've certainly never fit in this bracket (nor has my family), but I fully expect that I'll need minimum a household income of $150k to pay for things adequately. This isn't for extravagant things, either - largely funding my retirement, my children's education, and my mortgage on a fairly modest house (the cost being for the area, not the house - again tied to kids and such). I also imagine I'm likely planning on having more kids than most people here. Even so, though, I think it's reasonable to expect some level of adjustment to the brackets for changing monetary value regardless of what one's particular income may be.

    Lets also keep in mind that as a percentage, only a little less than 6% of households in the US even bring in an annual income greater than $150k. And half of that 6% is in the $150k to $200k range. So i'm not exactly crying for these upper upper middle class elite earners.
    So? Just because there aren't many of them doesn't mean that they should be treated the same as the truly wealthy. And you must admit that with inflation and various other economic factors, bracket creep is fundamentally a problem whether or not you think the current brackets are a problem today. Yes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck View Post
    You also side stepped 401ks and the like. All that stuff is tax free. Realistically, if you are making 250k, you are not being taxed on a significant portion of it.
    There are fairly low contribution limits on 401ks and IRAs (IRAs are something like $5k? and 401ks are ~16k IIRC? There's also further limitations on contributions from so-called 'highly compensated employees' (making more than $100k), which can sharply limit even this contribution. So for people in this tax bracket who want to have anything approaching their current earnings in retirement (or even half that), they're going to have to invest quite a bit of after-tax earnings. Nonetheless, you're correct in that my example was hardly representative of exactly how these things work. For one, I didn't deduct FICA and other taxes, but I also didn't allow for some of the more common deductions and exemptions - taxable income is never the gross income... not to mention avoiding the entire AMT calculation as too much of a headache. But we can safely assume that people in the top tax brackets are only taking home - in one form or another - half to 2/3 of what they initially earned, while I take home a bit over 85% of my earnings, meager as they are.

    Now, how that money the government takes get used is another issue entirely. *eyeballs the bailouts*
    Heh, we can agree on that one.

    Ender
    Last edited by wiggin; April 21st, 2009 at 11:44.

  15. #45
    ~sigh~ High House Dawn Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Income Tax?

    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Heh, well my guess is you've never had kids. A postdoc in my lab has only two kids, and their financial situation is extraordinarily stressed. Her husband is a professor, so figure that they're probably pulling in ~$120k-150k pretax with her postdoc salary - it'll be closer to $200k pretax

    How many years has this prof been a prof? Starting salaries are around 60k or so, and get up to 100k+ after tenure. Better scaling depending on how good they are of course. Postdocs make about 35k or so(worst part of the tenure track, imo). Not knowing the details of your example, I'd estimate a household income of about 100k/year.

    in another year when she moves into her faculty position (which she already has promised). Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Wrong.
    It's a very sweet deal. I bet you both their school loans are minimal to nonexistent compared to say a doctor or lawyer. Anything they get after taxes is theirs to do as they wish.


    Now...


    They are currently scrounging around to buy a house in the school district they want their kids to grow up in, and even the cheapest houses are pushing 400-500k.
    No, the cheapest houses go for quite a bit less than that right now. A nice house, in a nice part of Chicago is setting the bar very high and is very far from your average American household. The housing market in my hometown is just as bad, my parents bought their most recent house for over 600k a few years ago but I would never dare use them as an example for federal issues. It's disingenuous.

    Your friends have the option of investing in a house in a suburb. The inflated cost is the cost of living in a city.


    They don't have enough savings for a significant downpayment,
    and with the freeze in the credit markets, they can't get a decent mortgage.
    These two things alone are the main reason they can't get a house. They should wait a couple years, save as much as they could and buy then if they want a nice house so bad. In the meantime, put the blame on the housing market and the instability in banks. Don't ran on income taxes.

    Buying a house is no simple thing. It takes years of planning and execution for people in this income bracket. It's a given.

    Add that to upwards of $30k in daycare (IIRC per child but I honestly don't remember for sure),
    lol, I am pretty sure it's the joint cost for both their children. The cost of daycare ranges from 3 or 4k and scales up to about 15k. If they are blowing their load on the "bestest day care ever" for both their kids, they shouldn't complain about not being able to save for a house.


    food/transportation/healthcare/etc. for a family of 4, and you're looking at a very tight financial situation.
    Universities tend to offer fantastic health plans. Food and transportation is minimal, even in Chicago. These issues tend to make the case for lower brackets having less tax due to it being a necessity and eating up a larger part of the gross income.



    They're better than most in that both of them have decent job security and have to save extremely little for their kids college tuitions (Johns Hopkins, like most upper-level private schools, offers their faculty's children free tuition at JHU and steeply subsidized tuition anywhere else), so any saving they do manage to get in there is going to be for retirement and not kids. But even so, they're very stressed - despite the fact that their family income puts them in a fairly high tax bracket.
    They are in the middle tax bracket not a high one.


    They can't even think about any other kids until they're older,
    Sure they could. Kids are expensive, but if you have enough of them you can start a daisy chain of hand-me-downs and delegation of duties, including baby sitting which would lessen the blow to daycare and babysitting. Not to mention tapping family and friends. There is a saying in the south I hear quoted all the time from southerners "The town raises the child, not the parents".


    and they put in a minimum of 60-80 hour weeks as young academics. It's not easy. Sure, it's easier than the Joe Shmoes of the world pulling in minimum wage (I'm doing that voluntarily for 5-6 years and it sucks).
    Academics isn't easy, I'll agree. It requires a lot of late nights, but so do the equivalent business and industrial jobs. And those guys have much more in loans to pay back while academics get a "free ride".

    Any job that has room for promotion tends to have obscene work requirements. This grievance is artificial.


    But for parents who want to raise their children responsibly and plan for retirement, these numbers are really not that ridiculously high.
    I'm going to have to disagree with you. I know plenty of families growing up who made a fraction of the income in your scenario and they have houses, retirement, and more than two kids. Hell, my father used to make 20k and he managed to buy a house, a luncheonette and eventually a Diner. My family cut a lot of corners to make it work.






    Obviously the $250k household should pay more percentage tax than a $20k household. But should it pay the same percentage as a $900k household? I think not. Making a million dollars a year is an entirely different ballpark than making a couple hundred thousand.
    You can make a very valid arguement for breaking up the tax brackets more than they currently are. I'd wholeheartedly agree with you there.

    If both spouses are college graduates and working (my assumption for most people here), odds are they're making at least $100k in combined income if not quite a bit more. It doesn't go as far as it used to.
    It goes a bit further than you think in the bulk of the US. The cost of living in rural and suburban America is much lower than the big cities. Which is fine, b/c if you want to have a 2000 square foot apartment in the upper west side, it's a given you will pay a lot for it.


    Maybe I'm biased - I've certainly never fit in this bracket (nor has my family), but I fully expect that I'll need minimum a household income of $150k to pay for things adequately. This isn't for extravagant things, either - largely funding my retirement, my children's education, and my mortgage on a fairly modest house (the cost being for the area, not the house - again tied to kids and such).
    But those things are extravagant when you consider where you are coming from a lower income family. You'll have minimal support in creating you're own family assets. Is the same true for your children? Nope. They will benefit from your help and will be much better off than you were b/c in an equivalent situation you'd help them over the speed bumps like the one you highlighted in the above example. In such a case, would you not loan your kids some cash for a house?

    In turn, your kids will be much better off and living a much more extravagant lifestyle than you would ever be able to. Such a thing takes generations. Accept it and don't be bitter

    I also imagine I'm likely planning on having more kids than most people here. Even so, though, I think it's reasonable to expect some level of adjustment to the brackets for changing monetary value regardless of what one's particular income may be.
    The brackets aren't fixed as far as I know. They are adjusted, how often I am not sure, but they are. Just be aware as you plan your future that the cost of living in a metropolitan city is >>> living anywhere else in the country.










    But we can safely assume that people in the top tax brackets are only taking home - in one form or another - half to 2/3 of what they initially earned, while I take home a bit over 85% of my earnings, meager as they are.
    And, being in a lower bracket, the government is giving you the break.

    In other countries, taxes are quite a bit higher. All things considering, we're more fine than not. My biggest grievance with it all is predominately on how that money is used. Between corruption, greed, and incompetence, the system is a big mess, imo.

    Why the hell should companies that took extremely high risks all be pocket padded to this extent. The bailouts have become obnoxiously offensive to anyone making less than as much as 500k/year.
    Last edited by Buck; April 21st, 2009 at 18:11.
    I wanna be like a goose and fly to new orleans for the winter and to canada for the summer.

    Gaidin to Amelia. She is the bomb. And the keeper of satan's nose. Acually, all I have now is her right nostril...

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