You work hard all your life, take care of your family, pay your taxes, and save for a rainy day and to secure your retirement and provide for your golden years. You believe you have achieved the American dream, however, with the current federal tax burden, families have to shoulder, the ability of most Americans to obtain these goals begins to unravel. This is especially manifest in the federal tax code by the “age penalty,” a tax policy targeting seniors which results in a much higher and unreasonable federal tax burden. This “senior tax abuse” scenario is unfair to older Americans after they have worked, saved, and paid taxes all their lives and undermines the American dream.
The top 1% of income earners nationally (millionaires & billionaires) pay on average a federal tax rate of 22% yearly. Compare that with the rate paid by most seniors receiving Social Security benefits and currently earning over $32,000.00 each year who are forced to pay a tax rate of up to 28%. At the $42,000.00 yearly income level (hardly considered wealthy,) 85% of Social Security Benefits become taxable up to a 28% rate. Seriously, a higher tax rate (28%) for a $42,000 yearly income compared to a 22% average rate for million dollar wage earners? “This “age penalty” is blatantly unfair, confiscatory, and betrays those who are self-reliant, did the right thing, and saved for their future retirement.
The arbitrary mandatory minimum distribution (forced withdrawal up to 4% of all savings, IRA’s and annuities) every year after the age of 70.5 is clearly and simply unfair age discrimination on the part of the IRS and Congress. Forcing seniors to withdraw up to 4% of their savings each year (also taxed at a higher rate and increasing their total income) is punitive and creates a “double jeopardy” tax penalty not faced by younger tax payers.
Another, even more egregious, travesty cooked into the IRS tax code allows the federal government to pilfer the financial assets of seniors upon the death of their spouse. The surviving spouse must deal, not only, with the emotional loss but also must surrender most or all of the Social Security benefits of their deceased husband or wife. To add further injury, standard deduction and personal exemptions ($10,300) of their spouse are also lost, resulting in a higher income tax rate on less income.
The result of all of this is that seniors are financing a disproportionate amount of federal spending. The current presidential campaign provides seniors with the opportunity to demand that those seeking the office explain how they will remedy this government sanctioned “senior abuse.” It’s time to lift the heavy hand of government, reform this unfair depletion of senior American’s assets, allow them to reap the benefits of their retirement planning, give seniors a fair shake, and revitalize the American dream.
State Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson, a veterinarian, has represented District 56 (Waco and McLennan County) in the Texas House of Representatives since 2005