Tag Archives: payroll taxes.

Take hikes are not the answer to Social Security

Further Reforms to Modernize Social Security — Saving the American Dream

Great article from Heritage Foundation on Social Security System that shows that tax hikes are not the answer:

Social Security is currently unsustainable. It began running deficits in 2010 and its trust fund will be exhausted by 2036, which is when seniors will see about a 25 percent cut in benefits. This is the scenario we face if Congress and the President fail to enact meaningful entitlement reform and continue reckless fiscal policies. This course is reversible, however.

At a recent House Budget Committee hearing on the fiscal facts concerning Medicare and Social Security, Members were divided on how to save Social Security. Despite hearing from Steve Goss, Social Security’s chief actuary, that raising taxes is not a necessity, tax hikes remained the leading option among certain lawmakers. Both parties agree that Social Security is insolvent, but they disagree on what to do about it.

Raising taxes, however, is not an option. Amidst the greatest recession in three decades, higher payroll taxes threaten to damage the American economy. Heritage has a new plan for Social Security, as presented in Saving the American Dream. It promises to restore fiscal responsibility and protect Americans from unneeded tax hikes.

At present, workers and their employers each pay 6.2 percent for Social Security retirement and disability benefits, adding up to a 12.4 percent payroll tax that is levied on every single worker’s income. If the government were to increase this tax to pay for Social Security’s deficits, every American worker and his boss would split an increase of at least 2.2 percent. Raising these taxes will discourage employers from hiring new workers and exacerbate unemployment.

Tax-loving lawmakers then turn to the tax cap. Social Security taxes are currently deducted only from the first $106,800 each worker earns. But some lawmakers suggest that any money Americans don’t “need” is fair game for tax hikes. President Obama most recently revealed this philosophy, fundamentally at odds with America’s job creators, during a press conference on the debt limit. Similarly, certain members at the recent House Budget Committee hearing suggested lifting the cap on the Social Security payroll tax to pay for the program’s shortfall. But taking more money out of the private economy limits entrepreneurial exercise—the true source of wealth in any free-market economy.

The Heritage Foundation plan does not call for unnecessary tax increases. Instead, it restores Social Security to its original purpose of being a safeguard against senior poverty. The plan includes both a transition into a flat benefit for those who work more than 35 years, as well as phasing out Social Security benefits for those who have significant non-Social Security retirement income. The plan also contains incentives to encourage Americans to work beyond the age at which they would normally receive benefits. Because Americans are living longer than ever before, they are spending more years in retirement. Therefore, Saving the American Dream calls for gradually increasing the retirement age and then indexing it to life expectancy.

Unemployment remains high, and Social Security faces serious fiscal challenges. It simply cannot afford to pay all of the future benefits it has promised. Elected leaders must realize that tax hikes are not the answer and that there are different ways to save both Social Security and the economy. Saving both requires our attention now, and as Heritage’s David John writes, “ [I]nstead of just blindly defending the current program, both Congress and the Obama Administration should propose comprehensive programs that permanently fix Social Security.”

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Take hikes are not the answer to Social Security

Further Reforms to Modernize Social Security — Saving the American Dream

Great article from Heritage Foundation on Social Security System that shows that tax hikes are not the answer:

Social Security is currently unsustainable. It began running deficits in 2010 and its trust fund will be exhausted by 2036, which is when seniors will see about a 25 percent cut in benefits. This is the scenario we face if Congress and the President fail to enact meaningful entitlement reform and continue reckless fiscal policies. This course is reversible, however.

At a recent House Budget Committee hearing on the fiscal facts concerning Medicare and Social Security, Members were divided on how to save Social Security. Despite hearing from Steve Goss, Social Security’s chief actuary, that raising taxes is not a necessity, tax hikes remained the leading option among certain lawmakers. Both parties agree that Social Security is insolvent, but they disagree on what to do about it.

Raising taxes, however, is not an option. Amidst the greatest recession in three decades, higher payroll taxes threaten to damage the American economy. Heritage has a new plan for Social Security, as presented in Saving the American Dream. It promises to restore fiscal responsibility and protect Americans from unneeded tax hikes.

At present, workers and their employers each pay 6.2 percent for Social Security retirement and disability benefits, adding up to a 12.4 percent payroll tax that is levied on every single worker’s income. If the government were to increase this tax to pay for Social Security’s deficits, every American worker and his boss would split an increase of at least 2.2 percent. Raising these taxes will discourage employers from hiring new workers and exacerbate unemployment.

Tax-loving lawmakers then turn to the tax cap. Social Security taxes are currently deducted only from the first $106,800 each worker earns. But some lawmakers suggest that any money Americans don’t “need” is fair game for tax hikes. President Obama most recently revealed this philosophy, fundamentally at odds with America’s job creators, during a press conference on the debt limit. Similarly, certain members at the recent House Budget Committee hearing suggested lifting the cap on the Social Security payroll tax to pay for the program’s shortfall. But taking more money out of the private economy limits entrepreneurial exercise—the true source of wealth in any free-market economy.

The Heritage Foundation plan does not call for unnecessary tax increases. Instead, it restores Social Security to its original purpose of being a safeguard against senior poverty. The plan includes both a transition into a flat benefit for those who work more than 35 years, as well as phasing out Social Security benefits for those who have significant non-Social Security retirement income. The plan also contains incentives to encourage Americans to work beyond the age at which they would normally receive benefits. Because Americans are living longer than ever before, they are spending more years in retirement. Therefore, Saving the American Dream calls for gradually increasing the retirement age and then indexing it to life expectancy.

Unemployment remains high, and Social Security faces serious fiscal challenges. It simply cannot afford to pay all of the future benefits it has promised. Elected leaders must realize that tax hikes are not the answer and that there are different ways to save both Social Security and the economy. Saving both requires our attention now, and as Heritage’s David John writes, “ [I]nstead of just blindly defending the current program, both Congress and the Obama Administration should propose comprehensive programs that permanently fix Social Security.”

Brummett touts Buffett’s math, but it is wrong

Five Key Reasons to Reject Class-Warfare Tax Policy

Max Brantley on the Arkansas Times Blog, August 15, 2011, asserted:  

Billionaire Warren Buffett laments, again, in a New York Times op-ed how the rich don’t share the sacrifices made by others in the U.S.. He notes his effectiie tax rate of 17 percent is lower than that of many of the working people in his office on account of preferences for investment income. Candidates such as U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin believe — with election results to support them — that Americans support such a tax system.

There is one huge problem with this math. Taxes on dividends and corporate taxes and the death tax are all DOUBLE TAXATION.

Warren Buffett’s Fiscal Innumeracy

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

Warren Buffett’s at it again. He has a column in the New York Times complaining that he has been coddled by the tax code and that “rich” people should pay higher taxes.

My first instinct is to send Buffett the website where people can voluntarily pay extra money to the federal government. I’ve made this suggestion to guilt-ridden rich people in the past.

But I no longer give that advice. I’m worried he might actually do it. And even though Buffett is wildly misguided about fiscal policy, I know he will invest his money much more wisely than Barack Obama will spend it.

But Buffett goes beyond guilt-ridden rants in favor of higher taxes. He makes specific assertions that are inaccurate.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

His numbers are flawed in two important ways.

  1. When Buffett receives dividends and capital gains, it is true that he pays “only” 15 percent of that money on his tax return. But dividends and capital gains are both forms of double taxation. So if he wants honest effective tax rate numbers, he needs to show the 35 percent corporate tax rate.Moreover, as I noted in a previous post, Buffett completely ignores the impact of the death tax, which will result in the federal government seizing 45 percent of his assets. To be sure, Buffett may be engaging in clever tax planning, so it is hard to know the impact on his effective tax rate, but it will be significant.
  2. Buffett also mischaracterizes the impact of the Social Security payroll tax, which is dedicated for a specific purpose. The law only imposes that tax on income up to about $107,000 per year because the tax is designed so that people “earn” a corresponding  retirement benefit (which actually is tilted in favor of low-income workers).Imposing the tax on multi-millionaire income, however, would mean sending rich people giant checks from Social Security when they retire. But nobody thinks that’s a good idea. Or you could apply the payroll tax to all income and not pay any additional benefits. But this would turn Social Security from an “earned benefit” to a redistribution program, which also is widely rejected (though the left has been warming to the idea in recent years because their hunger for more tax revenue is greater than their support for Social Security).

If we consider these two factors, Buffett’s effective tax rate almost surely is much higher than the burden on any of the people who work for him.

But this entire discussion is a good example of why we should junk the corrupt, punitive, and unfair tax code and replace it with a simple flat tax. With no double taxation and a single, low tax rate, we would know that rich people were paying the right amount, neither too much based on class-warfare tax rates nor too little based on loopholes, deduction, preferences, exemptions, shelters, and credits.

So why doesn’t Buffett endorse this approach? Tim Carney offers a very plausible answer.