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Poll: Tax the well-to-do more for Social Security

There's a lot of support to raise the cap on how much income can be taxed for Social Security. What do you think?

By MSN Money Partner Nov 5, 2013 11:59AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAmong Americans age 50 or older, 61 percent support raising the cap on income subject to Social Security tax, an Associated Press survey finds.

Social Security cards on clothes line © Mike Kemp/Tetra images/Getty Images"Among Democrats, support was at 73 percent; among Republicans, it was 45 percent," the AP says. The survey included more than 1,000 people.

The cap is currently $113,700, and will increase to $117,000 for 2014, according to the Social Security Administration.


Individuals who make more money than that don't pay Social Security taxes on the excess.


If the cap were raised, higher earners would contribute more to the program -- but it wouldn't change what we five-figure earners contribute because it's not changing the tax rate.

The survey documented other opinions about Social Security, including:

  • 62 percent of respondents oppose changes to the way benefits are calculated if the change would result in lower increases, as a proposal to switch to using a "chained" consumer price index would do. Just 21 percent support it.
  • "58 percent oppose gradually raising the age when retirees qualify for full benefits, while 29 percent support it."
  • About one-third believe the age for full retirement benefits should be lower than 65, while 10 percent say it should be higher than 67.
  • 41 percent support reducing benefits for high-income seniors, while 44 percent oppose the idea.

It seems likely that some kind of change is coming. AP says:

Changes to Social Security are on the horizon because the trust funds that support the massive retirement and disability program are projected to run dry in 2033. At that point, Social Security would only collect enough taxes to pay about three-fourths of benefits. If Congress doesn't act, benefits automatically would be cut by about 25 percent.

What do you think is the fairest solution to increase funding for Social Security?

More on Money Talks News:

Nov 5, 2013 1:01PM
Fairest ? 

 Give me back the hundreds of thousands of dollars I've paid in over the last 4 decades with 5% interest (much lower average than the S&P over that time) and then I am out of the system. That way if I live longer it is on me, but if I die early at least my kids get the money I've paid in. Was always willing to be responsible for myself, but never given the option to not participate in the Ponzi scheme that is SS. 

I was responsible, which means I have saved too much so likely they will find a way to means test me out of even the expected payments. Goal in retirement will be to make as little taxable income as possible even if I have to accept smaller returns, just so the govt. doesn't get more to waste.
Nov 5, 2013 2:19PM

Tax 100% of earned income. Why should lower wage workers pay never ending SS?












Nov 6, 2013 9:41AM
Raise the cap. I can afford it. Also remember SS is not just to assist for retirement. It is also a disability insurance solution. You get in a car accident and cant work the rest of your life SS is there for you so stop the well I can invest the money and get a higher return crap.  If your 30 and an accident or disease happens well you would then be SOL.
Nov 5, 2013 8:44PM
Social Security currently holds a surplus of 2.8 trillion in treasury bonds. Some partisan talk and less than objective studies have it running out of funds in three years or 30 depending on what billionaire funded think tank report you read. Common sense will tell you that Social security is very very popular, the only folks who don't like it are either extremely wealthy or just plain stupid. The wage cap needs to be lifted because our nations policies, the past 30 years, have all but eliminated pensions and turned 401ks into  management fee cash cows for investment banks and insurance companies, people are coming up way short of retirement goals in most 401ks. So Social security benefits will have to be increased and retirement plans will have to be reworked to better suit the individual investor. My plan is 401k, self managed large cap dividend stock portfolio and Social security. This three part plan provides the diversity you need.
Nov 6, 2013 2:31PM
Social Security is not underfunded, just over borrowed from by our government. Their failure to repay that debt should be no different than any other assumed debt. If they would just start paying back to the system what was taken there would not be any talk of cutting benefits. The government need to check their spending and start toward a more balanced budget. I am no economics major, but everyone knows that you can't just keep increasing the spending without ramifications down the line.
Nov 6, 2013 1:30AM
Reduce the SSN tax, have individuals open their own 401Ks and savings accounts and for God's sake quit raising any tax on anything so the money is kept out of the hands of the idiots that are in Congress and especially our spendthrift president.  Must keep people from depending on the Social Security system and government rather than being responsible for yourself and your future.
Nov 6, 2013 2:42PM



Am fortunate enough to exceed the limit.


Yes. But make the fund "untouchable" by those in charge.

Nov 6, 2013 1:59PM

If you have paid into Social Security, you are entitled to payment when you retire. You are not entitled to a raise every year or so for any reason. That is not how pensions or insurance works. Social Security is meant to keep you out of poverty, not pay for every convenience life has to offer.

Nov 6, 2013 3:51AM
Laughable statement in this post, authored by Brandon Ballinger:
"... but it wouldn't change what we five-figure earners contribute because it's not changing the tax rate."

Note the use of "we" in that sentence.  Not a very objective way to conduct a poll, if you ask me.

So, here we have yet another sign of the insidious way that class-warfare has crept into the American psyche over the last seven or so years, thanks in large part to President Obama.

In case you're wondering, I'm retired and with part time consulting barely reach five-figures earning, so I WOULD NOT be affected by any such increase increase in the cap on SS tax.
Nov 6, 2013 2:01PM

It didn’t happen all at once, but the dream that was the United States of America, the Great Republic, has died. Other countries hostile to the idea of true freedom didn’t cause it; it wasn’t caused by a radical religious organization. The downfall of the United States was all from within its own borders, by its own people. The people, for whom others have died, have allowed the country to die a slow death. The me too, me first attitude that started many years ago, along with the idea that all are entitled to the fruits of others hard work, has allowed this country to bleed to death. When the British raised the tax on tea, our forefathers should have just shut up and paid the tax. Almost 240 years later, what has changed? Thousands have died for absolutely nothing.

Nov 6, 2013 2:40PM

 "The cap is currently $113,700, and will increase to $117,000 for 2014, .


Individuals who make more money than that don't pay Social Security taxes on the excess."


Yes.........But they also are capped out on how much of a SS benefit they'll receive.  If you raise the cap on   the salary, then the amount paid out should also go up..........   Oh wait, we'll just implement 'means testing' and pay out less.........that's the 'New Amercian Way"  Penalize respsonsible behavior  and reward non-contributors 

Nov 6, 2013 3:54PM

What do you think is the fairest solution to increase funding for Social Security?



Stop taxing people and companies and let everybody save for retirement according to their own means.  My "golden" years would be way more enjoyable if I didn't have to support folks who simply won't save for their own behalf.


This and all the other Socialism schemes reward people for not taking care of themselves.  It's un-teaching people to fend for themselves.  This program will end in ever increasing class warfare as those who become addicted to free government handouts/services demand more and more of the working.

Nov 6, 2013 12:06PM

What a surprise...a majority of Americans favor raising taxes on that great group "everyone but me".  Let me sit down for a minute while I recover from the shock.  In January 2005, President Bush attempted to get Congress to listen to a modest change in the Social Security program.  If you wanted to stay in the system as it is, you could.  If you wanted to begin to transition your 2% of your contributions to a private 401k-style plan, you could do that.  Actuaries I talked to told me that the math actually worked long-term.  BUT NOOOOOOOOO.......!!! (as John Belushi might say.)  The collectivist cabal in Congress screamed and howled so loudly you would have thought Bush was screwing one of the Kardashians.  The result- Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House in 2006. 


Fast forward to Fall 2013.  The system is nine years closer to being broke.  As everyone knows, the government knows best, and they are so much more attentive to everyone's needs than ever before.  So......the answer?  Take more and more money from more and more people forever and ever, and promise to give it back to us.  The unwashed masses think this is a great idea, because the money is going to come from someone else, and be given to me.  The most productive among us will have more incentive to hide more of their income, which will ensure that no more money gets into the system.  The system will still be on a collision course with catastrophe, because more and more people will retire every day and demand their due. 


And the best part is....Democrats will continue to get elected, and be able to make promises they can't keep, because clearly all of these financial shortfalls will be the fault of Republicans, the Tea Party, George Bush, greedy wealthy people, Rush Limbaugh, and so on.  Yep; this is a great world we are building for ourselves.       

Nov 6, 2013 2:00PM

Social Security is a self funded pyramid scheme, which only works as long as there are more people paying in than there are receiving benefits, and as long as benefits are not far more than payments made plus a fair growth rate (most recipients receive far more).

The SS trust fund had a lot of money which needed to be invested. It was invested in government securities. That’s okay as long as the government can afford its obligations (it can’t). In 2030 (may not be the actual date) SS will pay out more than they take in. That is not necessarily bad for SS because they have all that money invested in the government. One problem. The government can’t make good on the investments. The government is so mis-managed that in order to pay SS what it owes them it needs to raise taxes. That is why they say SS affects the deficit.

Nov 6, 2013 2:41PM
Social Security should not change for those who make more because the ceiling of return to them is not higher. If 100% of their incomes is considered for the tax to take a percentage of, then the return from that-to be fair should be the same percentage as that of someone making 5 dollars a year.  I don't see anyone of means as my Sugar Daddy, and I don't think that the Obama Administration should either.  What incentive to get ahead, or create a new enterprise is there under this man?  Zero, Zilch.  He appears to want to have us the same as Cuba with most goods, services and jobs run out through the government.  Last numbers that I hears were 62 percent of those who work in Cuba work for the government.  I saw a film last night about China, and how many of our jobs went there only to backfire on us totally during the Clinton Administration.  What was begun was to help others with jobs only ended up in The United States getting screwed, again. We are already so in debt to China.  We educate them in technologies, then they take it.  Social Security is in trouble for one because the unions failed to realize that companies would move when they got too greedy.  Social Security is in trouble because Fair Trade is absolutely uneven.  Social Security is in big trouble because the computer industry has made such great advances that the jobs people did are no longer needed.  Social Security is in bigger trouble because Obama Administration took huge amounts out of our funds to fund his national healthcare.  Social Security was in trouble the minute that the president-whoever that was, signed the papers to move SS into the General Fund which amounts to the same as stealing from pension funds and we know how upset the government got with that, yet we can't put the presidents over the years who allowed the same thing done to us in prison.  Social Security is in trouble because Obama his first year gave us all some money, a few hundred-then lowered the percentage to be removed from working people and not 10 days later said that the Social Security fund is going under.  Well Dah!.  We knew that it was really in trouble when Obama decided that our cost of living is not the same cost of living as Other Americans and allowed the amending of factors that determine the KOLA.  We knew we were in trouble when we look at ourselves and in his entire time in office we will have gotten 2 increases due to the KOLA, when for every year there were always increases.  But on that I don't feel so bad since my children aren't getting raises either at work, which brings me back to Social Security and its impact. His Affordable Healthcare has again caused business owners to change the way they see employees - as part timers because of the costs again handed on to them.  Social Security is in trouble because millions of people have lost jobs.  Social Security is in trouble because people are not making as much, so they are not contributing to the funds.  Social Security is in trouble because the gatekeepers of the fund allowed those into the gate to steal from it and since every person in this country should eventually receive it, every person in this country to be hoppin' mad that things are occurring like this.  Social Security is in trouble because, we need jobs, with safe conditions, not unions.  And we don't need foreign investors, we need Americans working in American Manufacturing with Americans keeping their secret technologies here.  We need to plant, grow, revitalize this nation into what it was, but cleaner.  We need Jobs with ethics, great desire to work and treated fairly by employers.  With a few million jobs, we can dominate ourselves.  We can create everything here, we have the resources and if we want we can sell it elsewhere.  Businesses can thrive, make profits, employees can invest in themselves and think of The Pie again.  And with that, in the end, Social Security will recover.
Nov 6, 2013 1:38PM

I think that many are overestimating the actual amount they have paid into SSA. I've been paying into  SSA since 1965, actual real work (40hr./week) didn't start until 1969 my first year fulltime job, USAF, my inflation adjusted yearly income since 1969 (including 5 years of part time work when I returned to school and almost 24 months of not working at all) is $63,000.00/year and for my highest 35 years (the number used to calculate my SSA benefit) is inflation adjusted at $72,000.00/yr. My contributions to SSA since 1965 has been just about $96,000.00 and employer match is about $102,000.00. Now I've averaged $72K/ year and I see so many claiming that they have contributed hundreds and hundreds of thousands to SSA. That is actually hard to grasp as I have reached the maximum contribution level for 18 years of the last 45.


In the last 17 years I have accumulated over $500,000.00 in my 401K plans. Which means that I would need to withdraw almost 5%/yr. from those monies to match my SSA income. Which has been the better investment?

Nov 5, 2013 1:36PM
That's a novel concept, tax the very People who are against Paying a Living Wage and are outsourcing our jobs to slave Labor Overseas. Tax the very people who are wealthy beyond their dreams because they are leeching off the hard labor of others. So Why has it taken so long for more folks to realize this?
Nov 5, 2013 5:20PM
Social security is another failed entitlement program created by a effing bonehead democrat. They're basically taking your money and "promise" to return it to you when you retire 40 years later. Now that they've squandered all that money and they will keep raising the retirement age, it's now just another permanent tax on your income and you will not see any of the benefits that you're promised to received. Good job democrats in screwing the country with your socialist agenda. Obamacare will be the next failure and will be a bigger train wreck.
Nov 6, 2013 12:38PM

1. Remove (not just raise) the earned income cap;

2. Raise, over the next 10 years, the full-benefit retirement age to 70; and

3. Reject use of the chained CPI to calculate the annual COLA.


Nothing else is required to maintain today's level of benefits into the future.



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