Since the pandemic began, we’ve had 3 different stimulus bills that far exceed by multiple amounts any other stimulus measure in history as well as the largest ever infrastructure bill all passed. The current running total between these pieces of legislation exceeds $5 trillion in aid. Former Senator Dirksen once said, “a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money;” real money that taxpayers will eventually have to repay. While there are only a few letters separating million, billion and trillion, there’s a significant difference between them. To try and conceptualize the difference, let’s talk about it in number of seconds. If you were to start a timer a million seconds would be about eleven and a half days. A billion? 32 years. A trillion? 32,000 years. That is not a typo. The difference between a million, billion, and trillion is the difference between eleven and a half days, 32 years and 32,000 years.
While this is staggering when put in the context of time, it is also staggering in the context of dollars. At the start of the pandemic there was about $1.84 trillion worth of physical US currency in circulation, according to the Federal Reserve. That means in the last two years above and beyond any normal government spending there’s been in total more than twice the amount of all coin and paper currency out there between just the 3 stimulus bills and the infrastructure package!
What does this all mean for us as taxpayers? It means that in aggregate the cost for these pieces of legislation exceeds $40,000 per household. Would it have been easier or better just to give every household $40,000 rather than the way things are being done? Perhaps. While that is debatable, what’s not is that this sum is eventually going to have to be paid for through tax increases and/or printing of money (which is in part to blame for us currently seeing the highest levels in inflation in 40 years).
While these numbers are all large and quite scary, what’s scarier is that according to the non partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the US has unfunded liabilities of over $122 trillion currently. That too will have to be paid for in some way by somebody in the future. To go back to our original time conceptualization $122 trillion is over 3.9 million year’s worth of seconds.
All this spending is just at the federal level. While Kiplinger rated Kansas as one of the least tax friendly states for retirees, don’t think things can’t get worse. Tax rates are still lower than what they were prior to the Brownback tax cuts and the state rates dead last in reserve funds having exactly $0, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. The top tax rate has already increased nearly 24% since the Brownback cuts ended and would still need to rise another 13% just to get back to where the tax rates were previously. Don’t be surprised if tax rates increase by this amount or more to help pay for future revenue shortfalls the state may experience.
We’ve said time and time again on our radio show, during public speaking events, in articles we’ve written, and in meetings with clients that retirees are one of the highest and most unfairly taxed groups out there. The recently passed SECURE Act is likely just the first step to even higher taxes on retirement accounts given not only the current spending spree, but all the unfunded liabilities our country will be facing in the future. Those in, near, or saving for retirement would be wise to get a tax reduction plan in place while the temporary Trump tax cuts (scheduled to end in 2024) are still in effect to at least help minimize that negative impact.
Material discussed is meant for general/informational purposes and is not intended to be used as the sole basis for any financial decisions, nor be construed as advice to meet your particular needs. Please consult a financial professional for further information.
If you are interested in finding out what tax planning opportunities there might be for your personal situation call us at 785-228-0222.