If You’re Paying More In Taxes, You Might Get Little Sympathy

I read a post on another one of my favorite blogs recently that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit.  I’m not going to point it out because I don’t think the post was written with the intent to get anybody upset.  Plus, it actually dovetailed into some other advice that was practical and useful for many.   But it still gave me enough pause that I wanted to vent a bit.  The post started with the author complaining that he’s paying more in taxes than most.

Professional Blogger

Some background first.  The is a professional blogger who writes a lot about his profession.  I can tell that he’s very knowledgeable, and I would wager that he is very good and very successful at what he does.

As such, I think he probably earns quite a good living.  Which, just to make very clear, I am 100% fine with.  People that do good work and are compensated well for it, I really have no problem at all with.

However, where it went a little off course was that he just jumped right into the fact that he was paying a lot of taxes, and glossed right over what I consider the even more important part of it.  What’s that?  It’s simple.

He’s  paying a lot more in taxes because he’s making a lot more money.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Taxes

See, when you shift the focus of the sentence, you could easily look at the “making more money” aspect, in which case, who would complain about that?  Nobody.  Nobody at all would complain about making more money, right?

mb-2015-06-chartBut, if you’re paying more in taxes, aren’t you, in essence, complaining about making more money?

Now, I know that tax law is complicated and there are tons of factors that go into what people pay, so I know that people can make the same money and pay wildly different amounts in taxes, and vice versa, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that someone who pays $5,000 in taxes is likely making a lot less than someone who pays $25,000 in taxes.

See, it’s all about perspective.  You’d probably never hear the person that pays $5,000 in taxes say “Oh, wow, I wish I was paying $25,000 a year in taxes.”  That would sound almost silly, right?

Would You Sacrifice Income For Taxes?

But, what if, for the sake of argument, the two were making $50,000 and $250,000 respectively.  Would you think it crazy if the person making $50,000 thought “I wish I was making $250,000 a year”? Of course not, who wouldn’t want that?

However, aren’t they really saying the same thing?

Let’s face it, everybody would like to pay less taxes.  I get that.  But in the roughly 20 years I’ve been filing returns, it’s a pretty safe bet that if I’ve paid more taxes versus the prior year that I’ve started off by making more money.  I mean, you can’t really have it both ways, so which way would you rather have it, paying more and making more or paying the same but foregoing your growing income?  That could very well be the easiest question ever asked on this blog.

Go ahead.  Complain about paying more taxes.  But think about this.  Aren’t you really complaining about making more money? Have you ever heard of someone making such a complaint?  Well, if you’ve heard someone complaining that they’re paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, you may in fact have.

The post could have been nullified a bit.  Perhaps  starting things off with “Our income was good last year, but even so, it still sucks paying $<amount> in taxes.”  Acknowledging the other side might have earned a tad bit more empathy from me, anyway.

Readers, what do you think?  Do you see complaining about paying more taxes almost as complaining about making too much money?

9 thoughts on “If You’re Paying More In Taxes, You Might Get Little Sympathy”

  1. I think they need more tax deductions. I doubt if many people enjoy paying taxes, so complaining about paying them — no matter how high or low — is a natural thing to do. It’s money out of your pocket and it’s difficult to know exactly what the government is spending it on.

    It sounds like he just wanted to rant and doesn’t consider where his tax money goes.

  2. The middle class does get screwed. There are so many loopholes for the mega rich. That being said, I formerly got a big chunk back from the EIC and people totally judged because of that. Which was dumb because it’s essentially a subsidy on the minimum wage. Now I pay a ton in taxes, but I’m okay with that because like you said, I’m making good money. I’d rather have a rough time at tax season that a rough time throughout the year.

  3. Even though paying more taxes means I made more money, I still don’t like paying tons in taxes. It’s painful to write that check or sign to have that much taken out of your account.

    • I totally get that emotion, but my point is really to step back and realize that you probably don’t want to have to write a smaller check if given the choice because that probably means you made less.

  4. Making more money throughout the year and paying more in taxes makes sense to me. We pay a good amount in taxes, but I’m okay with that, after all we should because of our income level. Sure, who wouldn’t like to have to pay less in taxes every year. The middle-class takes the brunt of the hit on this it seems. How frustrating is it to read about all the high earners and the low amount of taxes they paid last year? I think there are opportunities for the government to help the middle-class with taxes instead of helping widen the gap between classes.

    Or the flip-side, the very-rich who *want* to pay more in taxes.



  5. I hear what you are saying, and just like everyone else, I would prefer to make more money (and pay more in taxes) than less money (and pay less in taxes).

    But, I do think it can get frustrating when you make more money and then have to pay a larger percentage of that money in taxes. Also, as earned income continues to increase, many of the deductions that are available at lower income levels get phased out, thereby decreasing your net even more.

    It’s not just how much you’re paying, it’s also that you essentially get penalized for earning more.

    • True, but one thing to keep in mind is that if you have two people, one making $50k and the other making $250k, with all else equal, the two will be paying the same for the $50k. I think that the person making $250k might assume that because they’re paying a higher differential rate on the remaining $200k (and this is true), that they’re paying more on the equivalent $50k. Which isn’t true. The tiered tax brackets that we have make it so that it is somewhat level up to the point where one income level stops and another continues.

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