Sunday 23 Oct 2016

Middle Class Screwing
Matt Seinberg

I can't figure out if the middle class is shrinking, staying the same or growing. I can say this because I am in the middle class, and this income group is the one that local, regional, state and federal governments continue to screw over with arcane tax laws.

Since when did 13 become a cut off age for childcare? Does the IRS think that, at thirteen, a kid suddenly is self-sufficient enough to stay home alone or watch themselves?

Marcy and I have been in a dispute with the IRS over a tax deduction for Michelle for almost 3 years now. They actually garnished a good portion of my tax refund last year and there is still no resolution on if we could get that money back.

First, they blamed it on a backlog of cases, the sequester and, finally, the federal government shutdown. While everyone Marcy has talked to on the phone has been very nice, there is no answer forthcoming anytime soon.

Being in retail sales, for so many years, means my income can vary greatly from one year to another. In 2011 and 2012, we got a tax refund from the federal government and from New York State in 2011. For 2013, because we made more money, we now have to pay both the federal and state governments.

More disturbing was for the past two years, the weekly taxes that came out of our checks increased greatly! Here's an example using rounded up fake numbers. In 2011, the net pay dollars were approximately $525. In 2012, that dropped to $450. In 2013, it dropped even more to $400. All this attributed to President Obama not renewing the Bush era tax cuts.

My friend Mike is a staunch liberal Republican who blames all the country's woes on Obama. Mike is liberal on social issues and conservative on political ones. We agree on social and disagree on political. I will not discuss politics with him, just to keep our friendship intact.

When I questioned him about our paychecks, he told me to blame it on "... your president." Ok, I do. It makes me feel sorry that I voted again for him, but there was no way I was going to vote for Mitt Romney. Mitt sounds too much like Mutt, and who wants a dog in the White House?

Our tax system is so antiquated that it needs to be redone to tax the rich, and give more breaks to the middle class. It needs to be simplified, not made more difficult. Do you think I enjoy paying $175 a year to my accountant to do my taxes because we have to find every little deduction we can in the convoluted tax code?

The poor of this country get so much help in the form of food stamps, welfare payments and health care, while the middle class are having trouble paying their every day bills. The rich sit in their penthouses and mansions laughing at the little people.

Health care in our country is certainly a hot button topic. The Affordable Care Act was to extend health care to anyone that didn't have it. The big mistake was requiring everyone to get it, or otherwise pay a fine. If people can't afford to buy the health care, how can they pay a fine? That's trying to get blood from a stone; it can't be done.

A few years ago when I was in between jobs, I was able to get low cost health care for the kids because our income was low enough to qualify. Had I been working, it would have been very expensive. With the ACA, it would be very expensive for a family of four with an "average" income to qualify for a low cost plan.

Marcy works for a very large public company, so six and half years ago she went from part time to full time just so we could get on their health plan. Over the years, the premiums have risen about 33% and what used to be a co-pay plan went to a co-insurance plan.

That means instead of paying a set dollar amount for a doctor's visit, we now pay a percentage of the "fair and reasonable amount" that is paid to the doctor. Last year, it went from 10%-to-20 per cent. That is a big increase! A regular-co-pay used to be $10 and then co-insurance kicked in. That visit went to about $8.62 if nothing special was required; it doubled a year later. Add in anything else and that $10 visit becomes $50.

I feel my blood pressure going up. I have to end this now before my head blows up.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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