Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Time, Why $1,700 Means Joel Stein Is Rich
, by Joel Stein
I've always believed the rich were different from you and me, but it turns out they're different only from you. When I listened to the nuanced economic debate over whether the Bush tax cuts should be kept for rich households making more than $250,000, my overwhelming response was, I'm rich! My total income for 2009 was $288,115, placing me among the richest 2% of Americans. ...
I called Mike Foster, a tax lawyer at Venable LLP. After hearing the specifics of my tax returns, Foster informed me that I am not rich. The debate is over people who report more than $250,000 after deductions, and I had only $182,532 in taxable income, thanks to my giant mortgage and high income and property taxes. ... Even more confusing, my income was high enough that I had to pay the alternative minimum tax, which makes the Bush tax cut irrelevant. Or something like that. Foster wasn't sure.
"I don't even do my tax returns anymore," he said. "I don't know any tax lawyer who does their own tax returns. The forms are Greek even to us."