Tax reform championed by Donald Trump and passed by a Republican Congress was a boon for middle-income families. According to a study by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, the average household in America can expect a lifetime gain of about $25,000.
And despite persistent claims that the measure was a giveaway to the rich, the percentage gain was roughly the same for every income class. If anything, the current tax code is more progressive than the one it replaced.
Yet more needs to be done. We need to remove the most unfair, most anti-work, most anti-saving provisions of the tax codeones that burden the middle class. What follows are some examples.
Liberate older workers. Roughly 90 percent of seniors begin collecting Social Security benefits before they reach the full retirement age. Yet if these folks get a new job or a part-time job and earn one dollar more than $17,640, they will lose 50 cents of Social Security benefits because of the earnings penaltya draconian tax enforced by the IRS. For a $20-an-hour employee, the tax kicks in if you work Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday.
When Social Securitys earnings penalty is combined with the Social Security benefits tax and other taxes, middle-income, senior workers can lose as much as 95 cents of every dollar of wagesthe highest tax rate in the nation. [See Figure I.]