Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 21, 2011

Janitors in Helmsley Building Pay Higher Tax Rates Than Millionaire Residents

Tax Analysts Martin A. Sullivan (Tax Analysts) has published At the Helmsley Building, the Little People Pay the Taxes, 130 Tax Notes 855 (Feb. 21, 2011):

Martin A. Sullivan looks at IRS Statistics of Income Division data showing that the effective tax rate for filers listing the Helmsley building as their address is less than 15% [click on charts to enlarge].



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Tracked on Jun 9, 2011 12:00:08 PM


As pointed above SS contributions are supposedly not a tax. What is missing, is appears a majority of the income is NOT earned income, but could be dividends, interest, long term gains etc. So your comparing apples and oranges.
Had the AGI been earned income the tax rate is 35%

Posted by: RJ | Feb 21, 2011 3:02:02 PM

ie no one actually lives in the Helmsley Building (former New York Central building on Park Ave north of Met Life)

Posted by: curmudgeonly troll | Feb 21, 2011 12:23:12 PM

fwiw, those are all office buildings, presumably accountants file and give that as the return address.

Posted by: curmudgeonly troll | Feb 21, 2011 12:22:05 PM

Including OASDI taxes in this calculation seems disingenuous at best. These taxes are actually just 'contributions' to SS / Medicare - of course higher income taxpayers don't pay the same proportion of their income on this line item. Benefits are capped, as are contributions.

Of course, we could uncap the income limit at which these taxes are assessed, but then we'd either have people paying more into a retirement plan than they could ever hope to see paid out, uncap benefits and see people complaining about how millionaires get $15,000 / month in Social Security benefits.

Posted by: PeterTheFish | Feb 21, 2011 11:25:38 AM

Oh, BTW, are the benefits regressive as well?

Posted by: Paul Parker | Feb 21, 2011 7:46:42 AM

Guess it depends on whether you view it as a contribution - the way it was sold "back in the day" or a tax as this fellow writes.

Contribution and Benefit Base
Automatic Increases

Cost-of-Living Adjustment

Tax data

Wage-indexed amounts
Social Security's Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program limits the amount of earnings subject to taxation for a given year. The same annual limit also applies when those earnings are used in a benefit computation. This limit generally increases with increases in the national average wage index. We call this annual limit the contribution and benefit base, or taxable maximum. For earnings in 2011, this base is $106,800.
For Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) program, the taxable maximum was the same as that for the OASDI program for 1966-1990. Separate HI taxable maximums of $125,000, $130,200, and $135,000 were applicable in 1991-93, respectively. After 1993, there has been no limitation on HI-taxable earnings.

An employee who pays contributions on earnings in excess of the contribution and benefit base (because of employment with two or more employers) is eligible for a refund of the excess employee contributions.

For wages paid in 2011, employees pay 4.2 percent and employers pay 6.2 percent in OASDI taxes. Thus, an individual with wages equal to or larger than $106,800 would contribute $4,485.60 to the OASDI program in 2011, and his or her employer would contribute $6,621.60. Self-employed workers pay 10.4 percent in OASDI taxes on income in 2011. By law, the OASI and DI trust funds will receive taxes as if the tax rates were 6.2 percent for employees and employers, each, and 12.4 percent for self-employed workers. The reduction in 2011 tax revenue due to lower tax rates will be made up by transfers from the general fund of the Treasury to the trust funds. See tax rates for a table of the OASDI and HI tax rates on wages and self-employment income.

Posted by: Paul Parker | Feb 21, 2011 7:45:26 AM