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Hell Is... IRS Logic

One reason I'm a Republican: the Earned Income Tax Credit. OK, I didn't make a lot of money last summer, and I'm living off loans. But there is neither moral nor logical justification for me to be receiving more money back in taxes than I paid to the government last year. (Given that foreign income gets no withholding, the amount there was zero.) Of course, Clintonesque tax policy doesn't require morals or logic.

There's something vaguely unclean about taking the money back. I mean, that won't stop me from taking it, of course, but it seems rather odd.


Ahem. The Earned Income Tax Credit, which offers refunds up to $4,300, was proposed by President Nixon and expanded by Presidents Reagan and Clinton. It has been part of the federal tax code since 1975. Of course, in my world, that's a point in Nixon's and Reagan's favor ;-) But I'm not sure that you want to call EITC "Clintonesque tax policy." If I remember Economics of Welfare Reform correctly, the idea was to build aid to the working poor into the tax code instead of having it be driven by subsidized housing, food stamps, etc. EITC -- as evidenced by your willingness to take it -- also doesn't have the stigma of those welfare measures.
Hi there - I only visit sporadically and although I tried hard, I couldn't let this pass! I don't think the EIC was intended for students, per se, but rather for working families. Actually, more often, for single working parents - that seems to be where the benefit. IE it's a social investment of sorts into children who are if not actually in poverty then close to it. (Maybe you can set to rest your guilt over the money by donating it to a homeless children's fund?) Here's a book you should read if you have any curiosity about the idea that as an alleged Christian nation, budgets and tax codes are in fact moral statements: "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis. Very on target discussion of why neither party is doing a good job of representing a consistent moral position, despite both of them trying to clamber over the other to achieve the moral high ground. For you, tho, that ever present grey area between what's logical and what's morally right might present a problem. : ) Hope you are well!!!
PG is of course correct. (I am, of course, delinquent and, like, a week late. Quit killing my buzz, man.) The EITC was a proposal by the not-very-Clintonesque Milton Friedman as a replacement for welfare payments. One quibble with PG: My understanding is that it has little to do with the "stigma" of welfare so much as the material incentives. If you give everyone earning less than, say, $20,000, a $10K welfare handout, but nothing to anyone making more, you create a serious disincentive (I'm not going to say "discentive" because I feel foolish) to earn more than $20K unless they easily could earn more than $30K, as well. You'd expect a lot of people to make $19,500 but no more, unless they could take a job for $31,000 or so at little less opportunity cost. However, if you give someone back in EITC fifty cents on the dollar for every dollar earned up to $20K, then you've accomplished more or less the same anti-poverty effect, without creating the perverse incentive to game the system by being less productive than you otherwise would like to be. But hey, I thought Clinton's practical-more-than-ideological policy solutions were something to be admired, so I'll welcome the comparison.

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