Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000 per Year

Promises Broken President Obama has broken the following promises:

"Barack Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors -– saving them an average of $1,400 a year — and will also mean that 27 million seniors will not need to file an income tax return at all." — Obama's Comprehensive Tax Plan

"When I'm president, we'll work to see that no retiree making less than $50,000 each year has to pay income tax." — 9/18/07, Washington D.C.

Source: http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/taxes/Factsheet_Tax_Plan_FINAL.pdf

Other promises regarding taxes.


Updated: Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Senior tax measure is not included in Obama's first budget document

Many are curious when President Obama will end income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 as he promised. We don't have a crystal ball, but we can say that this measure did not make it into the stimulus bill, even though some of Obama's other tax promises did. The measure also was not part of the budget outline that the Obama administration released on Feb. 26, 2009.

Its omission from the budget outline is not a good sign for seniors who want it to pass soon. Such a significant measure would almost certainly have been in the document if Obama intended to enact it for 2010. Several other tax credits and exemptions that Obama promised during the campaign were mentioned specifically in the budget.

It has a significant price tag. During the campaign, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center analyzed Obama's tax proposals and concluded it would cost $35.4 billion from 2009 to 2013, or $69.9 billion from 2009 to 2018.

It should be noted that the Tax Policy Center didn't care for this idea because it conflicted with the center's mission statement that taxes should be "fair, simple and efficient." In a report on Obama's tax proposals, author and tax analyst Roberton Williams said that the move exacerbates inequity between older and younger taxpayers with the same income:

"Most senior citizens already pay no income tax because they may claim an additional standard deduction and because most Social Security benefits are not subject to tax; nobody age 65 and over whose income comes entirely or almost entirely from Social Security pays income tax.

Obama’s proposal would remove even more elderly from the tax rolls while maintaining taxes on working families with similar income but greater need. With federal spending on programs for the elderly projected to soar as the baby boomers retire, targeting special tax breaks on the elderly seems inappropriate. Furthermore, the proposal only helps seniors who currently pay income taxes; those too poor to owe any tax — arguably those most in need — would get no benefit."

Whether the policy is advisable or not, it's not listed explicitly in the budget outline, even though other tax credits and deductions are mentioned prominently. More details on the budget will be released in April, and Congress must approve the final package. But for now, because this measure is not part of the initial budget proposal.


The Tax Policy Center, President-Elect Obama's Tax and Stimulus Plans , January 2009

Office of Budget and Management, Budget Documents for Fiscal Year 2010 , accessed Feb. 26, 2009

Office of Budget and Management, Summary Tables , accessed Feb. 26, 2009

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