At least I find it to be so; maybe someone can explain why it would make any sense to structure it this way (I mean, this is the rare program that seems to be popular among serious thinkers on the left *and *right for the most part; yet I find a glaring problem with it from my POV).
Now, I normally consider it a fallacy when people talk about wanting to stay out of going into the next tax bracket, because they think they will earn less in net. With marginal tax rates, of course, that’s not true–the higher tax gets taken only out of the amount over that line.
But with the EITC, I just discovered, it’s actually true. I have an investment I got in my grandfather’s will: a weird real estate thing that is apparently an obsolete tax shelter. It is basically a share (or half a share, since my sister got half of it) of an apartment building in upstate New York. A company manages the property, collects all the rent and pays for all the maintenance etc., along with fees for themselves; then they distribute the net proceeds among the “partners” in this investment. Anyway, this year said proceeds amounted to $3,226.
So here’s where the EITC comes in. The rules say you can make up to $3,300 net in “passive” investment or real estate income and still get your full EITC. But if you make $3,301, boom: you lose your entire EIC, which for us this year is $3,476. That is so fucked up! This investment fluctuates from year to year, and it just happened to be $75 lower than this cutoff point. Had it in fact been $75 more, it would have been like getting nothing from the investment, *plus *having someone nick $100 from me just to add insult to injury.
So…what the actual fuck??? I understand the basic idea behind not paying out EITC funds to trust fund babies or whatever; but why doesn’t it just start reducing your EITC as it goes above a certain threshold? If it reduced it one to one, it would just make my yearly distribution check worth exactly $3300 if it were to read more than that, unless it got up to nearly $7000 (which would still be sort of annoying but whatever). To make it so a teensy bit more income throws you over a cliff–wow.
If I had seen that it indeed was just past that line, could I have sent some of the money back to the investment company? Sunds bizarre but it came close to being something I would have been fairly desperately interested in trying to do.