Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tax Burden Shifts to Boomers; Is It Fair?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tax Burden Shifts to Boomers; Is It Fair?

Article excerpt

They don't consider themselves special, but they are. Both graduated from good universities; both now work at well-paid, white-collar jobs. He's a lawyer who works on Capitol Hill; she's a lawyer who works in a general counsel's office.

Their combined household income - $180,000 - allows this fortysomething couple to live well, but certainly not what they would consider extravagantly. They've got a nice house in a good neighborhood, two driveable cars, a live-in nanny and they send two children to private school. Each year, they try to take a one-week vacation at the beach or visiting family.

The money comes in, but it seems to go out just as quickly. And besides, they work hard for it.

You might call this couple "upper-middle class," or more contemptuously, "yuppies." But by any name, they are the people President Bill Clinton is counting on to bail out the republic.

In agreeing on the federal budget this month, the president and Congress decided to all but excuse the middle class from paying to repair the deep hole in the government's accounts. After so many months of stories recounting the trillions owed by the nation, middle-income taxpayers were asked to shoulder little.

The key middle-class hit, a 4.3-cent addition to the gasoline tax, will add $31 to the average motorist's costs, or less than 12 cents a day.

Instead, the federal government extended its palm to the likes of the yuppie couple earning $180,000, singling them out for the kind of sacrifice it did not ask of others.

In a sense, it may be the first time members of this new elite have been called on to make sacrifices for their nation - and maybe it's about time. The 76 million members of the baby-boom generation have lived more of the American dream - they are better-educated, healthier and collectively wealthier - than any group that came before them.

Excluding those who served in war or who have dedicated themselves to public service, sacrifice and selflessness have never been distinctive baby-boomer traits.

More than one observer, including a dual-income, baby-boomer professional named Bill Clinton, has commented on the disproportionate tax advantages that the well-off in this and other generations enjoyed during the past decade.

But is a "yuppie tax" fair?

Many in the group earning more than $150,000 a year

may be comfortable, but they won't become truly wealthy without owning a business, acquiring a large inheritance, or investing very wisely - the most common ways people reach high-net-worth status, according to PSI, a Tampa-based company that surveys wealthy individuals for financial services firms.

The "unrich" rich may not be happy about paying more taxes, but according to accountants and tax advisers, they've long been resigned to it.

"If you feel it's everyone's responsibility to make sure the roads are paved, children are educated, that we take care of the elderly through Social Security payments, then you don't mind standing by the administration on this," said Jonathan Schiller, a Washington attorney who is married to a Washington attorney. …

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