Natali Morris Blog

September 21, 2017

What Is A Fair Share? How To Think About Your Tax Rate

Of course I want to see what this Republican government can do about tax reform – if they ever get there. And of course I would be SUPER happy to get a break from this 39% tax rate that we pay in our family.

But I stop short of using the word “fair” when it comes to taxes. I really hate this word and the sanctimonious way we all use it.

Fair is a fatuous word. Life is not relative and we don’t start even. No amount of tax rate or government program will ever make anything fair so maybe it is time to stop using this bullshit concept. Instead we should focus on what is RIGHT.

I spend A LOT of my time trying to plan our tax strategy because, as Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki says, taxes are an investor’s biggest expense. I recently became aware that not only are we in the highest tax bracket, we also pay a 3.8% surtax on our investment income to help fund the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare.

No wonder the GOP base hates this. It is expensive and it requires people who likely have health insurance to pay for people who do not.

But is it fair? Is it right? I struggle with this.

Sure my husband and I have worked hard to have financial stability but we came out of the womb with a lot of privilege to put us ahead of the game. What do we know about true poverty where you can’t afford toothpaste? What do we know about race discrimination other than what we have read in books? We bootstrapped ourselves, sure, but we had some pretty good boots to start with. So isn’t that privilege worth sharing with those who never had it? Is it worth 3.8% more? How do you quantify your springboard?

We do NOT live in a meritocracy and people who get pissed about what my father calls “entitlement programs” seem to think we do. You can moralize that poor people should just pull harder on their bootstraps but you will never know the invisible forces that slap their hands along the way.

I’m not saying you just pay your rate and shut up about it though. Because the bigger problem is what happens when you do pay a little more to subsidize those who have less. What happens to that money? I wish I had confidence that our government was competent enough to make the numbers right but I do not. Our government is playing a house of ego cards right now and no one is any better for it. We don’t need politicians looking for wins to figure out the tax code. We need bipartisan economists. Where are those people?

Or Dave! We need a solution like the one from the movie Dave where the juggernaut president brings in his personal bookkeeper Charles Grodin to point out that the government runs its books ass backwards and fix it with Econ 101 strategies. Can that please happen?

Barring that, I must resign myself to two options: I can either get involved in effecting tax policy, and let’s face it, I’m not going to do that. Or I can pay my taxes and work to expand my own wealth and help others who did not have similar privilege do the same. So I am going to do the second thing. Because I believe that when we complain about taxes and fairness, we hinder our own growth. Complaining about money is the best way to chase it away. We must expand our own wealth consciousness and play the system we’ve got until we’ve got another one.

Next week I am going to share with you what I have learned about investing with cash value life insurance. Because we can’t change the system overnight but we can rock the one we’ve got with knowledge!

6 responses to “What Is A Fair Share? How To Think About Your Tax Rate”

  1. PM1 says:

    Very thoughtful article Natali. I couldn’t agree with you more. How do you balance between:
    1. Paying my fair share so we can take care of people who are destitute, provide opportunity to everyone, pay for common infrastructure like police, fire etc.
    2. I want to pay less so I can save more. I am capable of contributing to charitable causes I care about. Is my tax money being wasted?

  2. Joe Dawson says:

    The question of appropriate taxation really depends on what service you feel are appropriate for government to provide.

    Is it really logical that the USA military should spend more then the next eight countries in the world combined? Is that the best way to spend taxpayers dollars?

  3. Sue says:

    Natali, I was interested in what you had to say until I read this blog that has potty mouth. You can say the same thing and get more respect without all the trash talk. :/

  4. Adriane says:

    Great commentary. Often people speak of the entitlement programs and not the shared entitlements of roads, public healthcare, water systems, fuel systems, basic infrastructure that separates the developed nations from the developing ones or 3rd world. Should someone who doesn’t own a car have to pay taxes for roads? Should someone who doesn’t have children have their taxes go to parks, recreation programs, schools, lower and higher education?
    I’m of the belief that we must pay for what in the end is the greater good of society. Public education, public healthcare, well kept roads, clean water (sorry Flint), Safe foods, and public higher education and after school programs benefit the greater whole of society.
    Of course we all want to keep the most $$ we can, but the world is not equal and it is becoming less and less so. There’s no way today someone like my father who dropped out of school in 10th grade, self educate and obtain training and end up working for the US space program. Wouldn’t even be possible to do what he did today without a masters degree. Student loan interest is a tax that we need to greatly reduce. Those without money or parents who can provide an education get over taxed more than anyone.
    Parking tickets that cost $75 are a tax for example. Predatory lending is out of control and must be reigned in.
    I don’t mind paying my share and I also am smart and have learned how to maximize our write offs as well.

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