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FAQ

Would you be willing to pay the taxes to fund a Nordic model system?
Short answer. Gladly. Long answer below.The first question is what percentage are we paying NOW in taxes.Our Employers Pay:6.2 percent Social Security tax; and1.45 percent Medicare tax (the “regular” Medicare tax)We also pay:6.2 percent Social Security tax1.45 percent Medicare tax (the “regular” Medicare tax)4.63 percent state income tax (For Colorado for list by state click here)21 percent is the average federal tax rate for all taxpayers. [1]5.5 is about the median sales tax rate (figure I should count it because that is what we use money for, to buy things)[2]There are a lot I didn’t mention as they become really difficult to calculate. [3] [4]These total to be 46.43% of the average person’s income.The average US income is $50,756[5] and the average of $9,990 (according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services). This is 19.5 percent of the average income.Additionally, the nordic countries are provided with better quality healthcare, FREE EDUCATION, and most importantly• They are happier.In the US we say “well the money has to come from somewhere,” and it does. They manage their tax money incredibly well. In the US, we pay nearly 50 percent, and on top of it we have to pay for the things that their governments pay for.Who is better off?Footnotes[1] How Much Do People Pay in Taxes? - Tax Foundation[2] State and Local Sales Tax Rates in 2022 - Tax Foundation[3] The hidden 17% tax: Your cell phone bill[4] Fuel tax - Wikipedia[5] Household income in the United States - Wikipedia
How will "Medicare-for All" be funded? The average U.S household already pays 24% in collective income taxes, increasing the tax rate wouldn't be very popular.
“How do Democrats plan to fund "Medicare-for All?" The average U.S household already pays 24% in taxes, so increasing the tax rate probably wouldn't be very popular.”I have seen a wide variety of answers that get this VERY wrong. The question itself even implies the wrong answer. Everyone seems to think that somehow this would cost EXTRA money that would be funded from some extra tax or fee.It doesn’t. We are already paying outrageous sums for health care. A single-payer system actually reduces overall costs and provides healthcare for everyone.How it Works NowFirst, let's look at how health care is funded right now. There are two main approaches; a company provided insurance policy and self-funded insurance policies.You don’t get free health care when you work for a company. They just pay you less and look at medical insurance as part of your overall compensation costs. A cost that gives the company control over you because quitting means you lose health care.Not only do these work-based policies cost the company lots of money but they also need to be administered by HR staff. None of this is free.I personally have to deal with private insurance. It cost me roughly $18,000 per year for a family of three. That is a TON of money for a crappy Silver Plan with high deductibles.Why do these two things matter? Because these costs go away with a single-payer system. That is part of the budget of money we are working with to build something better.Possible Approaches for the New WayThe funding could be done with employment taxes on companies and moderately higher taxes on individuals. There are a ton of very successful examples of this all around the world to work from. In my case, I could get a massive increase in my tax rate and STILL be better off compared to what I currently pay.Out of the largest countries in the world, the US is the only one to not have some form of national health care. Those countries all spend roughly 12% of their GDP on health care costs while covering their entire populations. The US spends over 17% of its GDP on healthcare and only covers a portion of its population.How we fund it is just a shell game. Instead of employers paying an insurance company there could be a similar payment to Universal Medicare. Their current payments to an insurance company would be replaced by payments to a single-payer health program. My payments of $18,000/year to an insurance company would instead be payments into a single-payer system.The REAL ProblemThe core problem is that our system is hugely inefficient and a waste of money. We have the ability to cover everyone at a lower cost than the system we currently have.Insurance companies make huge profits, pay executive bonuses, marketing, and salespeople's salaries. None of these things help your health but they add a huge cost to your healthcare.Hospitals have large staffs of people whose job is to try and code the procedures in a game that gets the most money from the insurance companies. Then they have other staff that fights the insurance companies to try and get paid. Insurance companies have staffs of people trying to not pay the doctors. This is all waste that does not help anyone's health.People with no insurance put off needed medical procedures until they are in a crisis. They use the emergency rooms as their only way to get help. After the procedure, they go bankrupt. The hospital spends lots of money on lawyers and staff trying to get paid. The people who needed the help get their finances destroyed, which makes it much harder to live a productive life. Many become a drag on the government in other ways after being crippled by bankruptcy. All of these expenses get built into the prices for the next hospital customer.Our system is getting terrible results and costs far more than every national health system in developed countries around the world.Think About ItEven the idea that healthcare is rationed and slow in other countries is false. Half of my family is from Europe. Whenever we have a real health problem we can normally get it dealt with faster and easier by flying there than having it dealt with in the US.We should be asking “Why are we currently paying for healthcare in this inefficient and expensive way?”If we did a TERRIBLE job of implementing single-payer healthcare and only got the costs down to 14% GDP (worst in the world), that would mean our country was spending $780 Billion less on healthcare each year and covering everyone. That is $2400 more for each person in the US.This is money we could all be spending on better things in our life than crappy insurance policies and bad healthcare. That money alone could be a nice economic boom for other parts of our economy.The fact we stick with our current system is complete insanity.
How much does a "million dollar" winner on a US game show net?
If the price is $1 million cash, the winner gets a check for $1 million, and is responsible for reporting that income to the IRS. It is simply part of the winner's income, and after deductions, is taxed at that person's income tax rate (typically 20-40%).However, some shows will say they offer a million-dollar grand prize, but that is in the form of cash and merchandise/trips. They calculate the value of those prizes at full retail (which nobody would really pay). I won a trip to Rome that was valued (on-air and on the tax receipt) at something crazy like $6500. I can tell you that if I had to buy two economy class airplane tickets and a week in a mid-level hotel, however, I could have done it for a whole lot less than $6500! This seems like a lousy situation for the winner, because they are taxed on the value of the non-cash prizes, but it turns out the secret is that you can make a case with the IRS that the market value of the prize is different from the retail value. That's what I did when my taxes came due: my accountant asked me the value of the Rome trip and I said "well, if I piece it together online, it's about $2000" and he said "okay, that's what you're paying taxes on." So the lesson here is, viewers and prize-winners shouldn't pay too much attention to the "retail value" of the prizes you hear announced on the show.And not to get too off-tangent, but you can often find people dumping their prizes won on The Price is Right here in Los Angeles. Just search L.A. Craigslist for "the price is right", and you'll see tons of ads for dirt cheap, brand-new TVs, jet skis, dishwashers, etc. I've been told that after the show is finished taping, people sometimes refuse to accept the prizes they won if it doesn't make any sense to keep-- either because of the tax burden, or because it just doesn't make sense (i.e. an elderly tourist visiting from Nebraska wins a 12' surfboard).
With 6 million job openings in the US, why are people complaining that there are no jobs available?
I’ve heard that about residents of Appalachia in my native Kentucky. Parenthetically, they are overwhelmingly white, but they rarely figure into the thinking of anyone who refers to all poor people as “welfare cheats” and “moochers.”As someone who has moved quite a few times, let me explain it step by step:What if you’re not qualified for one of the open jobs? When you dropped out of school to go work in the mines, the mining company didn’t care if you hadn’t finished high school. Back then, you never expected that coal mining would someday be a dying industry. Unfortunately, it’s all you know how to do.If you’re working now, it’s probably at a Walmart, one of the few places that is hiring. But since your work schedule is on-call, you never know from week to week how many hours you’ll be working. You might want to train for one of those open jobs, but on what you make at Walmart, you can’t afford tuition at your community college. So you have to take out a student loan, putting you even deeper into debt. And because of your on-call schedule, you might wind up missing so many classes that you drop out. Now you have a student loan you were unable to use, but for which you’re still liable.If the job is not where you live, you have to sell your house. But if you live in an economically depressed area, there are likely to be far more houses for sale than there are buyers. If you walk away from your house and let the bank foreclose, your credit is ruined. If you try to keep up the payments while looking for a buyer, you quickly go broke.(You probably do live in an economically depressed area if you’re unemployed. In the words of Mel Brooks, a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose yours.)By some miracle, fifty miles away there’s an opening for a job you are qualified for. So you schedule an interview. But because you’ve been deferring essential maintenance on your car for lack of money, you need to find a ride. At the last moment, your ride doesn’t show up, so in desperation you jump into your car and pray it holds together for the fifty miles. But even if it does, you’re late for the interview, which is the kiss of death for a job seeker.To save money you’ve skipped eating lunch, so your stomach growls audibly while the receptionist is telling you that the personnel manager gave up waiting for you and has left for the day. Your lunch money barely covers the cost of two gallons of gas, so the car makes it home, but only on fumes.Then somehow you finally catch a break and you have landed a job. The bad news: you’re in Pikeville, Ky., and the job is 140 miles away in Lexington. You can’t commute, so you have to find a place in Lexington to live. Since you haven’t yet sold your house in Pikeville, you’ll have to rent. That means paying a damage deposit and the first month’s rent in advance. If it’s not furnished, you’ll have to buy the bare minimum of furniture, a bed and a table and chair.The relocation process alone may cost you a couple of thousand dollars before you’ve even drawn your first paycheck. If you can lay your hands on that much money, why do you even need to leave Pikeville?Then there’s always a chance that the job offer will be rescinded for some reason that’s not your fault, e.g., the boss so charming in the interview turns out to be a world-class jerk in the workplace and fires you because he doesn’t like your tattoos. So you end up back in Pikeville, still unemployed and financially worse off than ever.
How do I find out how much more I will have attached from Social Security by the IRS?
More under WHAT conditions?For an increased wage, expect 7.65% (=6.2%+1.45%) of any increase to go toward these taxes. This will usually be withheld by your employer.For the self-employed who paid no Social Security during the year, take 15.3% off your net income at tax time to cover this.If you are thinking how much more over the rest of my working life• who can even guess?Social Security is a flat tax garnished against many workers. In general:If you are an employee, it is 6.2% of your gross salary (up to a maximum salary of around $127,200 in 2017.). There is an additional Medicare tax of 1.45%.Your employer matched your taxed amounts with the employer share.If you are self-employed, you pay both the employer and employee taxes, so 12.4% SocSec and 2.9% Medicare
If the cap on Medicare payroll tax is eliminated, how much more revenue would the federal government collect?
There’s no cap on Medicare payroll taxes. Under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA, Medicare taxes are 1.45% of wages, with no limit on the wages subject to the tax.You may be thinking about the cap on Social Security taxes, as that Program only taxes the first $127,200 of wage compensation in 2022. Leaving aside the rationale for that - since Social Security benefits are also capped, it’s only fair that the taxes that provide for them are - estimates vary. At least one I’ve seen indicates that repealing the cap entirely would bring in an additional $100 billion or so in revenue for the Program, though I don’t think that estimate quantifies behavioral responses.
Do I need to file taxes if I am an unmarried dependent student who made under $5000 in 2015?
First consult Filing Requirements 2 | Internal Revenue Service where it tells you:An unmarried dependent student must file a tax return if his or her earned or unearned income exceeds certain limits. To find these limits, refer to Dependents under Who Must File, in Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.This gives you a strong clue that the answer is to be found in Pub 501, the 2022 version of which tells you:A person who is a dependent may still have to file a return. It depends on his or her earned income, unearned income, and gross income. For details, see Table 2. A dependent must also file if one of the situations described in Table 3 applies.So trudge over to Table 2. You’ll see:Single dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.1. Your unearned income was more than $1,050.2. Your earned income was more than $6,350.3. Your gross income was more than the larger of—a. $1,050, orb. Your earned income (up to $6,000) plus $350.Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.1. Your unearned income was more than $2,600 ($4,150 if 65 or older and blind).2. Your earned income was more than $7,900 ($9,450 if 65 or older and blind).3. Your gross income was more than the larger of—a. $2,600 ($4,150 if 65 or older and blind), orb. Your earned income (up to $6,000) plus $1,900 ($3,450 if 65 or older and blind).So, assuming that you only made $5,000 and this was earned income, you don’t meet the filing requirement.Whew! You’re done, aren’t you?Not quite. Remember, a dependent must file if one of the situations in Table 3 applies. Guess where I’m going to next?If any of the six conditions listed below applied to you for 2022. you must file a return.You owe any special taxes, including any of the following.a. Alternative minimum tax. (See Form 6251.)b. Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account. (See Pub. 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs); Pub. 590-B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs); and Pub. 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans.) But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.c. Social security or Medicare tax on tips you didn't report to your employer (see Pub. 531) or on wages you received from an employer who didn't withhold these taxes (see Form 8919).d. Write-in taxes, including uncollected social security, Medicare, or railroad retirement tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts. (See Pub. 531, Pub. 969, and the Form 1040 instructions for line 62.)e. Household employment taxes. But if you are filing a return only because you owe these taxes, you can file Schedule H (Form 1040) by itself.f. Recapture taxes. (See the Form 1040 instructions for lines 44, 60b, and 62.)2. You (or your spouse if filing jointly) received Archer MSA, Medicare Advantage MSA, or health savings account distributions.3. You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)5. Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You should have received Form(s) 1095-A showing the amount of the advance payments, if any.6. Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent. You or whoever enrolled you should have received Form(s) 1099-H showing the amount of the advance payments.Okay, you’ve decided you don’t meet any of these. Time to relax and pop open a nice craft beer …Hold on. You remember that I said before that I was citing to the 2022 version of these documents. You have to figure out a way to check on the 2022 requirements and see if they differ.Now you start to reach for that beer again …But you’re not completely done.If you had income taxes withheld and you don’t owe any taxes, you are eligible for a refund. But guess what you have to do to get the refund? That’s right, file a return.You may now have an understanding of why people find it useful to hire tax preparers, who see these questions all the time and have software and experience to streamline this process.And there’s plenty of additional factors that could affect this analysis.
Why aren't American taxes a sliding scale? Why does the tax system seem unequally distributed for the poor, middle, and upper class?
In theory, it does work on a sliding scale, with income brackets (as far as income tax goes) and a progressive system. In practicality, not so much.The poor in the United States pay nothing in Income Tax. “Poor” is defined as somewhere between 40% and 47%, or almost 1/2 of all households, depending on whose figures you believe. Romney was famous for throwing around the 47% people. When they tried to debunk him , they found he may be only exaggerating slightly. The people who pay the highest percentage of taxes are middle class high income earners. This group is also called the high paid wage slaves and includes a lot of professionals.There are two main reasons for this:Since Alexander Hamilton’s “Whiskey Tax,” the goal of taxation in the United States is as much to control the population as it is to collect revenue. Congress wants people to switch to solar water heaters—they give a tax break. Congress wants people to spend more than they save• they tax savings account interests as income. There are literally thousands of tax regulations just because a representative in the House or Senate decided that this or that behavior should be rewarded or discouraged.Politicians have figured that the formula to get elected is to please the very wealthy and the poor (but not so poor that they don’t vote). Politicians use the very wealthy to donate the money to run campaigns. Politicians pander to the poor to buy their vote. The best way to get the donations of the wealthy is to increase their bottom line through government handouts and tax incentives. The way to buy the vote of the poor is to offer “free” stuff. The trick is to lie to the middle class. Say that the handouts to the wealthy are “job creation” and the handouts to the poor are “being compassionate.” Throw a couple of bones to the middle class, like education for their children and you have a winning formula.A good example of this is food subsidy in the US. You take the tax dollars of the middle class. You give “free” food money to the poor and threaten to cut it off if they don’t vote for you. Then the poor spend most of that free food money on products made by a handful of agri-businesses. The poor keep voting, the agri-businesses keep donating and the middle class wage slaves keep paying taxes. The morning news shows won’t expose this because Pepsico, ADM and Monsanto are among their biggest advertisers.How do you fix this? a flat Income Tax rate with no deductions. I would recommend a rate of ZERO. That is how the United States managed for almost 170 years and develop into a world power.
How much can a single person make with one dependent before having to file taxes 2017?
Assuming your dependent is a qualifying child the filing threshold is $13,400 for 2022. If the dependent is something other than your qualifying child then the threshold is $10,400.Even if you don’t meet the earnings threshold to file, you still file a return if:You owe AMTYou owe tax on IRA or other retirement planYou owe household taxesYou had taxable tips not reported to your employerYou need to recapture a first time homebuyer creditYou received a distribution from a health savings account or similar type of accountYou had self employment earnings of $400 or greaterYou had wages from a church that were exempt from social security and Medicare taxYou received advance payments of premium tax credit from enrollment in the healthcare MarketplaceYou received a Form 1099-HEven if you don’t meet any of the above requirements, you may want to file a return if:You qualify for Earned Income Tax CreditYou had federal income tax withheld from your paycheckYou qualify for additional Premium Tax CreditYou qualify for Additional Child Tax CreditYou qualify for American Opportunity Tax Credit
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