Double taxation

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Among the many deductions on the paychecks of most wage earners is one labeled FICA, which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or OASDI, which stands for Old Age, Survivors and Disabled Insurance, or just plain Social Security, which is what the withholding pays for.

Everyone cent paid into Social Security is subject to federal and state taxation, except in some states that don't have personal income taxes. When Americans start drawing Social Security benefits -- at retirement, upon becoming disabled or upon the death of a spouse -- they can be subject to taxation again, both on federal and state returns, if certain income thresholds are exceeded.

About 43 percent of Missourians currently pay state income taxes on their Social Security benefits, generating an estimated $105 million annually.

Several bills have been introduced in the Missouri Legislature to eliminate the state income tax on Social Security benefits. Some legislators see this as a first step toward the elimination of the state income tax entirely. This possibility is all the more likely because of a strong economy.

Paying taxes is an onerous burden for many Americans. Asking them to pay taxes again when they get their Social Security benefits returned to them isn't fair. It never has been. Missouri is on the right track in considering an end to the double taxation.

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