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Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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Old 06-17-2008, 12:36 PM   #136
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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Originally Posted by Schneed10 View Post
OK thanks for that info. I had no idea the average lawyer made so much money.
The average lawyer does not make so much money. The notion that anyone can get a $160K job just by graduating law school is dead wrong, and it is the misconception which draws young 22 year olds into the profession. There are about 180 accredited law schools and the big firms tend to hire about 50% of their attorneys from the top 15 schools and the remainder from the top 40 or so. Rarely does a big firm hire a law student from a second tier law school, let alone a third tier law school.

Most 3rd, 2nd, and 1st tier law school grads become public defenders, prosecutors, government lawyers, public interest lawyers, or small firm lawyers. The average law school grad does not work for a 1,000+ attorney firm paying $160K to newly minted attorneys.

Moreover, many big firms pay a lot, but they expect their first years to pay them in blood and with their first born. There is a reason why roughly 50% of those highly paid lawyers leave their jobs within the first 3 years, notwithstanding the fact that they are faced with a mountain of debt.

EDIT - I just read your other post in which you basically said what I noted above.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:38 PM   #137
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

750k house with 150k down seems low and high as far as the money goes, especially if they wanted to be close to work.

also, if they actually had to go to a dentist/doctor they'd throw those numbers out of whack as well (besides loans), since PPOs and dental plans just don't pay for everything.

not saying your numbers are completely unreasonable, but it's not the end all, and a dual income household in DC can very easily hit 250k.

the biggest thing is the relative buying power of that 250k isn't nearly as high in DC as it would be in montana, but both households get taxed equally, since there's no CoLA for major cities (of course, it's a bit harder to make 250k/year in montana though).
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:41 PM   #138
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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Look on the bright side, it' an investment in yourself and potential earning. Plus your interest is tax deductible, and I'm not sure about this one but couldn't you deduct your loan payment as an educational expense as well?
The interest is deductible, but I still take a huge hit on the interest for my student loans. The student loans are, to my knowledge, not deductible as an educational expense (e.g., a Hope of Lifetime Learning Credit) because I am no longer a student.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:50 PM   #139
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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Moreover, many big firms pay a lot, but they expect their first years to pay them in blood and with their first born. There is a reason why roughly 50% of those highly paid lawyers leave their jobs within the first 3 years, notwithstanding the fact that they are faced with a mountain of debt.
That's an excellent point that I failed to mention.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:04 PM   #140
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

You mean to tell me lawyers aren't as rich and flamboyant as they are on tv?
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:56 PM   #141
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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You do realize that it's a progressive tax don't you? In 2008 you pay 33% on anything above $164,550 (you pay .33 on 85K not the entire 250K).
Your fuzzy liberal math makes my head spin. Flat tax baby!!
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:56 PM   #142
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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If you have young kids requiring daycare and student loans, this budget goes out the window, and the 3% is going to be felt.
Not for a couple making exactly $250K. They would not be affected at all. They make 0 in excess of $250K. 3% of 0 is 0. Me = good at math.

A couple making $300K would pay an extra 3% on the $50,000 in excess of $250K. 3% of $50,000 is $1500 per year.

The extra $50K a year in income would allow someone to cover the student loans you mention, the daycare, and the $1500 extra in taxes, and still fit just fine into the budget I laid out.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:57 PM   #143
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

I think I agree with those who said that the question isn't "What is rich?" but rather "Is it fair that the 'rich' should pay a higher percentage?" Whether it is 250k, 500k or whatever is minutae to me. All the same. You're still arbitrarily making someone fork over more money than the next guy.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:59 PM   #144
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

One final point, doesn't saying that you need more than $250K to be comfortable in DC just fail to pass the sniff test? If anybody wants to see how $250K can be comfortable in any market, give it to me, I promise I'll show you!

Keep in mind, the budget I laid out is LAVISH. That is a ton of discretionary spending. If you need more than $250K to be comfortable, you need to have your head examined.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:14 PM   #145
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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One final point, doesn't saying that you need more than $250K to be comfortable in DC just fail to pass the sniff test? If anybody wants to see how $250K can be comfortable in any market, give it to me, I promise I'll show you!

Keep in mind, the budget I laid out is LAVISH. That is a ton of discretionary spending. If you need more than $250K to be comfortable, you need to have your head examined.
Sorry, Schneed, but that's just picking and choosing. You laid out what you believe is an average budget. You missed a number of huge expenses, which we discussed. Let's look at another realistic budget, based of your initial work:

Quote:
PreTax Income $250,000

Expenses
Federal Taxes -61,229
State Income Tax: Maryland -11,948
Healthcare Insurance: PPO @ $120 per Paycheck -3,120
Dental Insurance: $20 per Paycheck -520
Mortgage: $750K House, $600K Mortgage @ 6.0% -43,168
Childcare (all 3) -43,200
Car Payment 1: $30,000 Car -6,453
Car Payment 2: $40,000 Van/SUV
Car Maintenance -2,000
Gasoline @ $300 per Month Per Car -7,200
Groceries for Family of 5: $1200 per Month -14,400
Electricity & Heat -2,400
Water -540
Cable TV, Phone, Hi Speed Internet, Cell Phone -3,000
Home Maintenance -5,000
Groundskeeping -2,000
Student Loans -15,000
Total Expenses -221,178

Discretionary Income before Federal Tax Return 70,419
Federal Tax Return: Assuming AMT Kicks In 21,407
Discretionary Income 91,826

Discretionary Spending
Retirement Savings @ 10% of Income -62,500
College Savings: 3 Kids @ $300 per Month Per Child -10,800
Vacation -5,000
Christmas, Birthdays, and Gifts -5,000
Entertainment & Merchandise @ $400 per Month -4,800
Eating Out @ $200 Per Month -2,400
Discretionary Spending -90,500

Annual Savings (Loss) ($40,271)
That's a $40k negative budget. I think that covers all of the "lavish discretionary funds". I even took out one of the cars (assuming you have a jalopy that's paid off). You can even remove one of the kids, and it doesn't get you down to break even.

I am certainly not saying you can't live comfortably at $250k. I'm saying it sure ain't "rich" (even from a cash flow perspective), which was the original question.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:17 PM   #146
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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I think I agree with those who said that the question isn't "What is rich?" but rather "Is it fair that the 'rich' should pay a higher percentage?" Whether it is 250k, 500k or whatever is minutae to me. All the same. You're still arbitrarily making someone fork over more money than the next guy.
Is it really arbitrary if it is based on income? Arbitrary indicates randomness, like everyone whose social security number ends it 8 is placed in tax bracket X. That would be arbitrary.

I mean, even the Fair Tax people argue that their plan is a progressive form of taxation. I guess I'm confused by what you would offer in place of progressive taxation. A flat tax for everyone regardless of income?
Abolishing the Federal Government entirely?
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:21 PM   #147
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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I guess I'm confused by what you would offer in place of progressive taxation. A flat tax for everyone regardless of income?
Abolishing the Federal Government entirely?
I would like to see a flat tax, with people making under $X exempt altogether. Of course, that would force the government to drastically reduce spending, but I'm all for slashing various budgets (e.g., defense, certain farm subsidies, etc.).
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:25 PM   #148
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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Not for a couple making exactly $250K. They would not be affected at all. They make 0 in excess of $250K. 3% of 0 is 0. Me = good at math.

A couple making $300K would pay an extra 3% on the $50,000 in excess of $250K. 3% of $50,000 is $1500 per year.

The extra $50K a year in income would allow someone to cover the student loans you mention, the daycare, and the $1500 extra in taxes, and still fit just fine into the budget I laid out.
Yes, you are correct on the 3% - my bad. I still disagree on the budget, though.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:32 PM   #149
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

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Sorry, Schneed, but that's just picking and choosing. You laid out what you believe is an average budget. You missed a number of huge expenses, which we discussed. Let's look at another realistic budget, based of your initial work:

That's a $40k negative budget. I think that covers all of the "lavish discretionary funds". I even took out one of the cars (assuming you have a jalopy that's paid off). You can even remove one of the kids, and it doesn't get you down to break even.

I am certainly not saying you can't live comfortably at $250k. I'm saying it sure ain't "rich" (even from a cash flow perspective), which was the original question.
You're way biased on this one though. There are very few couples with 3 kids requiring daycare who also make $250K, mainly because people who make $250K are in their 40s or higher. If all 3 kids do require some form of care, it would be of the after-care variety for at least one (if not two) of the kids, which is a fraction of full daycare costs. I maintain that your daycare cost has to come out of the equation. Is there a scenario where someone could have 3 kids who were born back to back to back, ages 3, 2, and 1, all requiring full daycare? And at the same time owing $200K in student loans? I guess so, but it's so friggin rare and not worth discussing from a political standpoint.

Student loans are an issue in this budget, I'll grant you that. But I can find room for those. Drive a $20,000 car and a $20,000 minivan instead. Cut your grocery bill back by $200 a month by buying chicken instead of steak. Don't spend so much on Christmas. Do the yardwork your damn self. And cut your $400 a month in entertainment down by half.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:53 PM   #150
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Re: Taxing the rich - what is the cutoff?

Not to mention that a portion of the couples who make $250K or more are made up of one bread-winner and one stay-at-home parent. Surgeons, high-level lawyers in the firms you mentioned, executives, brokers, real estate agents, and salesmen are some that come to mind. In which case there are no childcare costs.

You can come up with a scenario where someone would struggle on almost any income, but that doesn't mean it's worth discussing from a policy perspective. If we're setting a cutoff for a higher tax rate, we should be talking about whether MOST people would be comfortable. From a policy standpoint, we can't try to account for every worst case scenario.
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