Federal, state, and local tax systems tend to treat elderly taxpayers very generously. The costs of this generosity will rise rapidly after 2010 when the number of elderly persons will grow at an extremely rapid rate and the number of workers will stagnate because of the continuation of low birth rates that began in the 1960s.
The devices used to provide tax relief to older adults often have erratic and inequitable effects. People with the same income can face quite different tax bills depending on how the income is received. If it is deemed desirable to provide tax relief to older individuals, it would be more equitable to do it with an extra exemption, a tax credit, or lower tax rates for all those over a certain age, say sixty-five, rather than concentrating relief on specific types of income likely to be received by old people, such as Social Security or pensions. Whether one chooses a credit, an extra deduction, or a lower tax rate would depend on how one believes that the tax relief should be shared by different income groups. Superficially, it appears somewhat odd to provide any tax relief at all to very affluent older taxpayers. However, the current tax and transfer system, along with private policies such as means tests for college financial assistance, already contain numerous disincentives for accumulating wealth. It is necessary therefore, to be cautious as to how far we should go in continually making the system more progressive.
RUDOLPH G. PENNER
See also ESTATE PLANNING; PENSIONS; RETIREMENT PLANNING; SAVINGS; SOCIAL SECURITY.
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Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Taxation - Federal Tax Law, State Income Taxation, The Combination Of Federal And State Income Tax Burdens