· At 1.5 times the minimum wage ($32,100), they get to keep less than 20 cents out of each dollar they earn.
· By contrast, a couple earning $200,000 a year gets to keep 44 cents.
In a follow up study, Kotlikoff and coauthor David S. Rapson calculate the effects of working more hours for people at different income levels. They conclude that effective marginal tax rates are generally and substantially higher for lower-income households than for high-income households.
· For 30-year-old couples earning $20,000 the marginal tax rate on an additional dollar earned is 42.5 percent; yet those earning $50,000 a year face a marginal tax rate of only 24.4 percent.
· At age 45, couples earning $30,000 a year face a higher marginal tax rate (41.9 percent) than do those earning $200,000 a year (35.9 percent).
· At age 60, couples earning $10,000 a year face a marginal tax rate of 50.9 percent, compared to a 43.2 percent marginal tax rate for those earning $200,000!
Moreover, single-parent households who qualify for more benefit programs than do couples face astonishingly high marginal tax rates beginning at lower incomes. For example:
· At age 30, a single parent earning $10,000 a year faces a 72.3 percent marginal tax rate on an additional dollar earned due to their loss of welfare benefits; this rate is substantially higher than the 36.9 percent tax rate on the single parent earning $200,000.
· At 45 years of age, a single parent earning $20,000 faces a marginal tax rate of 42.9 percent; higher than a single parent earning $200,000.
· A 60-year-old single parent earning $10,000 a year faces a 50.9 percent marginal tax rate, while those earning $200,000 face a rate of 43.2 percent.