Someone Else Noticed
From a letter to Newsday: "Your story, "$9B deficit crisis" [News, Dec. 27] fails to mention that state retirees pay no state income tax on their pensions...As a private-sector worker, this is patently offensive to me. Why isn't everyone paying their fair share?"
It is patently offensive to me too. But as a current worker who does not wish to be cheating younger people when (if) I'm able to retire, I'm also offended that private sector retirement income is exempt from state and local income taxes up to $20,000, and Social Security income is exempt for all. Why should a retired couple with $80,000 in retirement and Social Security income pay no state and local income tax, while a family of four struggling with $50,000 in wage income pays at a high rate?
As I've said, it is not unreasonable for governments to enact policies that make life easier for older people and worse for younger people, who have other advantages -- IF those policies are sustainable. But Generation Greed has insisted on more and more for itself, and now acknowledges it is not sustainable by calling for cuts in benefits for those coming after -- and cuts in taxes today funded by debts younger people will have to pay.
If the state wants to given seniors a break, how about just exempting the first $15,000 in Social Security and retirement income combined for either public or private sector workers -- after the age that younger generations will have to wait for to collect full Social Security, now 67? Only looking to the future, the state best not adjust the $15,000 cutoff for inflation. Because those younger generations will be so much poorer when they are finally forced to retire that if you don't tax them in poverty you won't be able to tax them at all.
And don't tell me the state constitution prohibits the taxation of public employee pension income. The provision reads "THE INCOME OF NEW YORK PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SHALL BE TAXABLE!, (except pensions)." That can be read a fraudulent attempt to deceive those who voted for it decades ago, or as giving permission to exempt pensions from tax rather than a requirement. And in any event, if the state courts actually upheld the constitution, we wouldn't have to pay all those no-referendum debts and New York City's children would have received a "sound basic education" for the past 50 years.
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