Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Why should one get a free ride just because they are old?

by Rod Williams, May 31, 2022- The meme to the left has been appearing on my Facebook page again and again, obviously without the editing in red. It gets lots of likes, shares, and some confirming messages. I know most of my friends are of the conservative persuasion, so if this is showing up on my Facebook page it must be prevalent across the internet.

This is just wrong. Why should one not have to pay property tax just because they are 65 years old?  Many elderly people, me included, have more disposable income than they ever had.  If one was even moderately prudent, unless they had some unforeseen tragedy befall them, they should have had a paid-for house by retirement age and a paid-for car. If they were wise, by retirement age they should be debt-free.  I know not all people are fiscally responsible and some people have tragedies befall them that cause them to be financially insecure. Some people are simply low-income. There is help for people like that. Why should one get a free ride just because they are old? 

If all people over the age of 65 get excused from paying property taxes, then the burden is shifted to younger people.  I am of the view that property taxes are too high, but that is a separate argument from who should pay the taxes. Today's young people are finding it harder than ever to even purchase a house. They are likely to be the first generation in America's history to be worst off than the previous generation. Misguided fiscal and monetary policy and local zoning and land-use policies, as well as market forces, have pushed homeownership beyond the reach of many young couples. We do not need to compound the problem by shifting the tax burden to younger people. 

The greatest source of wealth accumulation in this country for most people is their home. We should make it easier for people to become homeowners, not more difficult.

If any age segment of the population needs a tax break it is younger people. We have reached the point where the American people are not replacing themselves. This has serious implications for the social security safety net as well as the ability to service other national debt. Probably the same people who "like" this meme are the same ones who "like" the meme that says social security is not an entitlement, which makes no sense since they claim it is something to which they are entitled. Social Security of course is not a funded retirement plan but a transfer payment. Today's wage earners, younger people, are paying for old people's social security. If we do not have population growth rates that replace ourselves, social security is in real trouble. We need to make it possible for young people to afford to have children.

I bet many of the elderly who are "linking" this meme are the same ones outraged about the proposal to forgive student loans. I share that outrage. Student loan forgiveness is lower-income people who did not go to college subsidizing wealthier people who did.  I share the view that there is too much welfare but then I do not turn around and ask to be excused from paying taxes simply because I am of a certain age. 

In Nashville, if you are over the age of 65 and make less than $45,090 you are probably eligible for a tax freeze. If you make less than $31,600 you are probably eligible for tax relief. If you don't qualify for this government assistance, you may qualify for a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages are not for everyone, but it is a way for many people who can not afford their home to stay in their home. 

Below is more information on the Tax Freeze and Tax Relief for Seniors programs. 

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