7 ways Americans pay taxes by Alexander E.M. Hess

1. Income taxes

Income taxes can be charged at the federal, state and local levels. At the federal level, the amount paid depends on a number of factors, including income and marital status. Lundeen noted the U.S. has a progressive tax system, consisting of seven tax brackets. He added, “for each additional dollar in a new bracket, you pay that bracket’s tax rate.” There are also a number of credits. For one, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) gives a tax credit to low and moderate earners.

State income tax structures vary considerably. Some states, such as Florida, do not levy an income tax at all. A few states use a single income tax rate, while many states apply different tax rates depending on income.

2. Sales taxes

Sales taxes are taxes on goods and services purchased. These are usually calculated as a percentage of the price paid. Sales taxes vary by state, and even by municipality. In some states, there are no sales taxes at either the state or local level. Other states and local authorities can charge a hefty amount. In Tennessee, for example, consumers can pay as much as 9.44% in sales taxes when combining state and local taxes, according to the Tax Foundation. In 12 states, sales taxes are higher than 8%. Sales taxes are often considered to be regressive, meaning lower-income individuals and households spend a greater proportion of their earnings to pay the tax, compared to higher income residents.

3. Excise taxes

Excise taxes are similar to broad sales taxes, except they are charged on specific goods. States typically tax certain purchases, including gas, cigarettes, beer and liquor. Excise taxes are frequently levied on so-called “sin products,” and often are intended not only to help raise money, but also to deter unhealthy behaviors. The federal government also collects such taxes, including 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel, as well as a 10% charge for tanning services. Excise taxes are often combined with sales taxes on a single purchase. According to Lundeen, in many cases a sales tax is paid on top of an excise tax.

4. Payroll taxes

Both employees and employers have to pay the Social Security tax, one of two payroll taxes. For the Social Security tax, employees pay 6.2% of their wages, and employers match that for a total contribution of 12.4%. In 2013, the maximum earnings subject to the tax were $117,000. In 2011 and 2012, the amount employees had to contribute briefly declined to 4.2% of wages, as part of a payroll tax holiday designed to encourage people to spend more and boost the U.S. economy.

A similar tax also exists for Medicare. Both employees and employers are required to contribute 1.45% of wages, or 2.9% in total, to fund the program. Unlike Social Security, there is no maximum taxable wage. In fact, since last year, workers who earned more than $200,000 had to contribute an extra 0.9% of their wages to the program.

5. Property taxes

Property taxes are usually imposed to fund local services. According to the Tax Foundation’s Lundeen, these taxes are based on the property’s market value, and are most often levied on real estate, but can also apply to other property, such as cars. In many instances, these taxes are deductible. However, according to the IRS, property taxes on real estate are only deductible if they are used to promote the “general public welfare,” but not if they are used “for local benefits and improvements that increase the value of the property.” Many homeowners also qualify for a mortgage interest deduction.

6. Estate taxes

The IRS defines an estate tax as “a tax on your right to transfer property at your death.” The estate tax is controversial, as it is seen by some as a penalty for dying. Cash, securities, insurance, real estate, and business interests are among the items considered part of an estate. However, for individuals, only estates exceeding $5.34 million are taxed by the federal government. Most Americans, therefore, are exempt from paying the federal estate tax. The highest estate tax rate charged at the federal level is 40%.

Estate taxes are also often levied at the state level. While states frequently use lower rates, they also often have lower exemptions than the federal government’s $5.34 million cutoff. Some states have an inheritance tax, where the rate you pay depends on your relation to the deceased.

7. Gift taxes

The gift tax is similar to the estate tax, in that it is a tax on transferring wealth. One important difference is that gift taxes involve two living people, Lundeen added. The federal government also has a far lower exemption level for the gift tax than it does for the estate tax. All gifts over $14,000 are taxable, with the tax usually being paid by the donor. If the donor does not pay, however, the recipient must foot the bill. The highest gift tax rate is 40% of the taxable gift amount. This tax applies not only to cash, but also to gifts like company shares or cars. Last year, Minnesota became the second state to implement its own gift tax, following Connecticut.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that recipients paid taxes on gifts. In fact, while the recipient is legally obligated to pay the tax if the donor not, the tax is generally paid by the donor.
Without a pension? Move to smaller nest, investment income and savings

Make income investments. Non-pensioners and corporate pension holders with household incomes of $100,000 or more have an average of $438,000 in investable assets, versus $313,000 for those with government pensions. Putting those assets to work in income-producing investments, such as annuities and bonds, may make sense.

Move to a smaller nest. The average non-pensioner has considerably more home equity–$168,000—than the average pensioner. To tap into that equity, those without pensions should plan on downsizing.

Save during the good times. During their working years, 30% of non-pensioners and 24% of people with private pensions have incomes that vary from month to month. In contrast, only 13% of government workers experience variable incomes. Those with variable incomes should bank the excess they receive in flush months, says Varas. Among retirees who manage to save ten times their income by the time they retire – a threshold associated with a financially secure retirement about 64% employed such a strategy.  Save at 13.5% return, tax free, safe and secured with access to funds during health threats, contact Connie Dello Buono CA Life Lic 0G60621, 408-854-1883 ; motherhealth@gmail.com , 1708 Hallmark Lane San Jose CA 95124