It’s tax season and so many people I see getting refunds aren’t getting money back that they paid in taxes in 2010, rather, they are getting “free money” for having 5 kids and a crappy job. The second the money hits their account, they withdraw it all and go spend it.
My question is, what country doesn’t reward behavior like that? I understand some families need support, but many abuse the system and I’m wondering if there is a country who doesn’t have ridiculous tax credits for people who are having kids just for the government checks.
I’m sure countries like North Korea just tax the hell out of everybody, so I would appreciate it if totalitarian dictatorships would be disregarded.
By “reward such behavior”, do you man have a lower tax rate for those with lower income, and deductions for having children? If so, this is the first time I’ve heard a progressive tax rate referred to as “welfare.”
Here’s a list of countries that allegedly have flat tax rate, but some (or all?) have deductions and exemptions.
The question as posed is unfair and leading, as it assumes by default that people on welfare are automatically gaming the system, or that somehow they are undeserving and that a country with no welfare system is somehow better.
Better for those who can afford it perhaps, but then it’s a return to Victorian Britain, with a permanent underclass that you can’t escape from and a wealth gap that a hedge fund manager would salivate over.
The purpose of the welfare state is to minimise the cost of supporting its citizens overall - so this means providing support for poor families with children because the cost of doing so is beneficial to society overall (never mind the simple ethics of “if you can’t feed yourself, tough luck, you can starve to death” that is the crux of a country with no welfare system) - supporting them with housing, food and social workers provides opportunities for them (or more likely, their children) to get out of the poverty trap.
A total lack of welfare is just false economy - it creates a permanent underclass, rife with crime and severe poverty that has a severe knock on effect.
Your assumption that “many” of the families on support really want it (or are too lazy to do anything to change their situation and just love the “free money”) is disingenuous. The vast majority of people on welfare would rather they weren’t, and are thankful that they are getting help at all, but would rather be supporting themselves independently. Being poor and lacking the opportunities to change it is soul destroying, and the vast majority of people on welfare desperately need it and are as far as possible from feeling “entitled” and “rewarded” for being in that position.
The worst thing you can think is that they’re all “living it up” at “hard working taxpayers’” expense - there are certainly going to be people who abuse the system, but they are no different than the super rich who abuse the system at the other end. The only difference is the colour of their shirt and the fact that the wealthy haven’t had an image problem until the recent banking collapse.
If you want to live in a society that really doesn’t have a welfare state, then you are essentially saying that if you fall on hard times, or were born into hard times, that society should just leave you at the side of the road to die. It’s all very well saying “they can work their way out of it if they really wanted to” when it just isn’t a realistic option given the rates of pay for unskilled jobs compared to the cost of living, and the time and financial cost of getting further education.
Saying that people on welfare are “being rewarded” is just offensive and misleading.
First, your title is about welfare, but then you talk about tax breaks. This is usually two different things. Welfare is for people too poor to live on their earnings (with various reasons for this); tax breaks come in all varieties for different groups of low-, mid-, and high-level income.
The high-level manager can employ a nanny and a housemaid and deduct their expenses if he has children; the low-level income family with the same number of children and therefore, the same amount of housework, can’t afford to employ anybody, so they get no return. Is this fair?
Moreover, people who get money and spend it are doing exactly what the govt. wants them to, and what the economy needs. An unemployed person - to take welfare again - is a burden on the economy not only because he isn’t earning anything, but because living poor, he can’t afford to pay the telephone company, to buy a new car, fancy clothes, go to a restaurant … so the phone company, the car company, the clothes shop, the restaurant… all earn less money, and have to let people go. More unemployed people => less money spent on the economy etc.
That people with a “crappy job” get tax breaks or even supplemental welfare because the wage is too low to live on is actually a broken function of capitalism: we allow a few rich managers to pay crappy wages that people can’t live on, and we, the tax-paying public, make up for that gap with welfare, instead of being sensible and making a minimum wage law that forces the companies to be responsible for their workers and decent wages.
As for spending on things… with crappy jobs or welfare, people can barely buy food and pay the rent. Everything else is impossible.
And the only way out of the crappy jobs is education - higher-skilled jobs pay better. (Unless they are outsourced to India). That means giving money to families with children, so that the children can get a good education (and improving the schools, too, but that’s a seperate issue. Though it will also cost your tax dollars.) Because children going to school need not only food and minimal clothes, but text books and paper and pens, and money for trips and so on.
I’ll wager that you have no idea at how many families actually abuse the system. I hear ridiculous numbers bandied around by the armchair people who never had to deal with poverty themselves, or try and get a job in the current economy, and who have lost both their sense of empathy and compassion, along with an interest in facts.
People who receive Welfare (Hartz IV) in Germany (which is often derided as socialist welfare hang mat) are tightly controlled. They live on less than 5 Euros a day for food and everything else besides the rent, which is damn hard. The rates of abuse uncovered by the controllers are in the single-digit percentage.
By contrast, all those middle- and higher-income tax payers have a rate of 50% and more cheating on their taxes- not with legal loopholes and benefits, but with lying and forging. (The state helps complicitly in that by not employing more tax controllers, when each tax controller brings in over 1 mill. Euro per year in withheld taxes. But apparently, that climate of trying to get the money from the people who have it is too unfriendly for the rich friends of politicans!)
I suppose I am just suffering from a confirmation bias. I do apologize for having a misleading topic; welfare and tax breaks are two different things and I did get them mixed up. I agree with JoeH2O when he says many on welfare wish they weren’t, and I can see why, in theory, population growth is beneficial to a country, but then when I read articles about dozens of teenagers getting pregnant in high school, I can’t help but think that many of them are doing it for the money; they don’t think about the long term, they just know they can get a check if they have kids and don’t work (live with their parents, etc).
At the base of it, I’m not against tax breaks and credits, I’m just against people who don’t know how to manage their money properly. I did exaggerate with many of my assumptions, mostly out of not knowing the facts. Maybe I should’ve just started a pit thread about people who squander money the second they get it instead of saving it and/or investing it.
What the OP is talking about is likely Earned Income Tax Credit. It is a form- sorta, kinda- of “welfare” if you want to stretch the definition of “welfare”.
The idea is to give the working poor a tax break for working, *instead *of being on welfare.
If you’re on welfare (and classical welfare is almost extinct anyway) they you are not working and your EITC = 0.
And, in most areas there’s a complicated formulae which takes EITC into consideration if you somehow qualified for both in a single year (such as if you lost your job a couple months into the tax year) .
Not that EITC isn’t open for abuse- a few decades ago a bunch of migrant workers were caught claiming EITC for their kids still in Mexico (which is one reason why you now have to have a SSN to claim a kid as a dependant).
In most states, single parents can’t collect a check unless they participate in a work or training program. 20 hours per week if you’re living alone with your kid, more if there are other adults in the household (up to 55 hours). After all of that, most states offer less than $300/month from TANF. A mother and child could also get about $350 in food stamps, and some other assistance (child care, heating ,etc.). It’s a meager existence. And there’s a lifetime limit of 60 months of benefits for everyone in the household.
The welfare state is dead. It doesn’t exist anymore. If you want to grumble about taxes being too high (and I’m with you on that one), look at where that money is really going. It ain’t going to teenage moms.
I’m sorry, I can’t let this stand. You clearly have no clue about actual poverty.
Right now, I haven’t seen a dentist in over a year and I need to because my gums are starting to bleed when I brush my teeth again - something that didn’t happen back when I could make my regular six month appointments - my “good” shoes are literally starting to come apart at the seams, my “back up” pair have a split across the bottom of the sole, my underwear is literally falling apart (yes, I’ve sewed it up a few times already), all my socks have holes in them, my truck (which I use to transport equipment when I do find work) needs new tires, my hairbrush is half bald from losing bristles, I have one and only one pair of jeans left that don’t have multiple repairs, and I’m going to have to borrow money to get my vehicle license plates updated so my car and truck remain legal after the end of the month. My husband needs new glasses - his are 10 years old and being diabetic his vision has changed but since he has better vision than I do without glasses, and my vision had gotten to the point it was becoming difficult for me to work, I got mine replaced this year instead of him. He’s also disabled. We’re trying to get him on disability but the the wait and the process are a nightmare. Meanwhile, he can bring nothing in to the household.
We’re one of those people who get the “free money” tax break you talk about. Yes, we ARE going to spend it “instantly” as soon as it “hits our account”. It will cover, maybe, half what we actually need paid for. How do you expect us to save or invest when half the year we don’t make enough to pay our basic costs?. I have made NO money since November. NONE. To my utter humiliation my father has paid my rent for two months.
Are we squandering our money? Really?
By the way - I had a solid 30 years of steady employment with steadily increasing responsibility and salary. I have 4-year college degree. Then I got laid off. THIS is the reality of being over 40 and laid off in today’s economy. I had to support two people on $10,000 last year. Tell me, how are we supposed to save and invest living in America with an income that low? I’ve managed to cut our budget down to $1,000 a month but that still leaves us two months short… which is why it’s dad to the rescue.
Sure, I have a computer - I bought it back when I was earning $50,000+ a year. Yes, I have a leather coat - my husband bought it back when he was able to work and also making a comfortable salary. Thank Og we bought some quality items back then, and they’ve lasted, so when I’m out on the street I don’t look as poor as I am. At least I can “fake” middle class so I don’t have to put up with self-righteous people using me as a whipping boy for all the ills of the world… which, yes really, I’ve seen people do. I have enough to worry about, I don’t need that particular toxin as well.
I don’t think you intend to hurt anyone, but your comments, implying those with real poverty are somehow “squandering” our resources when we don’t have enough to live on, really are a slap in the face. Please be a little more thoughtful. Maybe you just didn’t think there were actual, real-life poor people on the Dope but we are here.
You want to talk about wasteful tax breaks? I worked out of the country all of last year, so most of my earnings are excluded from income tax. The part that’s left over is subject to my normal deductions here in the United States (mortgage interest and personal, primarily). Then there’s the making work work credit (or some silly thing). I’m a high-income worker by most people’s standards, and yet I still get that credit. The result: my tax refund this year will be for more money than I paid towards my taxes. Yup, just like poor people, my net taxes were negative for 2010.
Russia has flat 13% tax on personal income. No deductions, no nothing. If you work off the books or don’t work at all (maybe you grow your own potatoes and get help from working relatives), you don’t pay it, obviously. Government is supposed to provide various services to people more or less free (e.g. health care that’s supposed to be free since the Soviet days) but the availability, quality and free-ness of such really varies, usually downward :-). Free health care in particular really costs money through various mechanisms.
All of the above adds up to relatively little government expenditure, little headache for the citizens and little sense of people being a “burden” on society. Stereotypical “burden” type of person in Russia is a useless, overpaid, corrupt government bureaucrat (they got millions of them), not the American-style “disadvantaged” person whose “gaps” in health care, education, incarceration and bus ticket to the polls on election day need to be filled (or papered over with lies) at others’ expense by overpaid unionized government employees. Russian government employees don’t pretend filling any “gaps”, so the system is also more honest in that regard.
BTW, have you ever wondered why all the “green” talk about the need to keep population to “sustainable” levels by any means necessary and comparisons of humanity to an earth-destroying “virus” are endemic to the welfare states of the West and not to places like Russia? Well, now you know. When you are not a financial burden as recipient of government largesse, there is no “death panel” or similar interested in getting rid of you in one way or other. Indeed, Russian government even made some fitful efforts to increase the birth rate amongst the Russian people.
Excellent post. I feel bad for you and hope things get better.
I wanted to comment because we went through a brief period of poverty ourselves, to the point where my daughter wanted to put off college and get a job at a drugstore to bring in some money. I was prepared to hunker down and live close to the bone, but I was shocked at just how fast our pantry (that I thought was so well stocked) emptied out. I could foresee oatmeal as the main course for many meals. And the “good” clothes being “saved”. And looking into finding out just where those “free clinics” were, and how to get there, and not driving unless we absolutely had to…it was a shock. We got past it back into the middle class, but I’m much more aware of just how enervating and worrying poverty is.
No, I’ve never wondered about this, because it’s demonstrably false. The two countries with the only active population-control systems that I know of are both Eastern - China and India. No Western country has a problem with high birthrate, and Russia’s problem is negative birthrate.
Thank you. Really, November to February are my worst months these past few years. I simply have no more reserves to tide me over, as I did the first two years after my layoff (yes, I’m going on 4 years of underemployed. * >sigh<)*
If we get money from the government it will cover a few necessities. Last May and June were good for us, good enough I no longer qualified for food stamps at all. maybe we’ll have the same this year, I sure hope so. I make most of my money these days between May and September.
I try not to despair, and I keep trying to make things better. But it’s no end of frustration to keep hearing about how “generous” the benefits you get from “welfare” are. They aren’t. The ONLY thing my husband an I qualify for at this point is food stamps. That’s it. NO help on anything else.
Not that I’m complaining. Between my garden and my budgeting skills we are, at least, eating well these days. That alone takes considerable pressure off, which makes me better able to cope with the other problems I have.
Sorry about your situation, Broomstick. But I am also of the belief that you are the exception, not the rule.
I know quite a few people on government assistance (welfare, social security disability, food stamps, long-term unemployment, etc.) Without exception, each and every one of them is abusing the system in one way or another. Of the people I know on government assistance, each claims they desire employment, but in reality they’re very lazy and irresponsible, and spend all day trying to figure out how to maintain or increase the amount of their entitlement checks. I find it sad and disgusting.
Funny thing is, Crafter, my experience is exactly the opposite of yours. I know a lot of people in my position (some my former co-workers) and yet I’ve yet to meet a welfare queen, even while sitting at the Public Aid office with my food stamp application. Sure, there was that single mom with her two kids next to me, but she was also working diligently on a college textbook which, somehow, I don’t think was meant for entertainment reading. Men who looked shaggy and had bad teeth, but also had scarred up hands and union cards as tradesmen who haven’t had a job for a couple years. I dunno, maybe all the deadbeats visit at a different time of day than I do. I’m sure there are people out there scamming the system somewhere, but I’ve never met them. There was that one young guy in his 20’s who had never held a job and kept saying he wasn’t allowed to drive, think a bunch of people thought he was a scammer until he had the full blown seizure in his case worker’s office - well, damn, I guess he really does have an epilepsy problem. The government still won’t put him on disability, though how he’s supposed to hold down a job while having daily convulsions is beyond me.
I guess it just goes to show personal experience isn’t always a reliable indicator of the big picture.