I have written about poverty and money before on this blog. When I have more time, I'd like to take up the issue of taxes, tax cuts, etc. A story yesterday said that Barack Obama was promising a middle-class tax cut (while raising rates on "the rich.") What I'm wondering, and I'd really like some comment feedback, is where do most of us consider to be the break-points between middle class and rich (and also the lower limit that separates middle class and poor)? I remember watching the old Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places on cable several months ago, and laughing when Murphy's character is offered the HUGE salary (in 1983) of $80,000 a year. His character was a big-time commodities broker, was driven around in a limo, wore a rolex... and $80k would cover that. Nowadays, if you "only" make $80k, you'd qualify for financial aid at my school. That salary could be two teachers, or a cop married to a secretary, or a garbageman married to a nurse, or any other combination of two people who both work what we might consider "modest" jobs. (I'd say if you make $80k by yourself, you're probably doing OK).
I think most of us define "rich" as "somebody who makes significantly more than me." But I'm looking for a number. Once I have a little feedback, I'll try to incorporate that into my piece on taxes. I'll start... just as a guess, I'd say that for a family (mom, dad, 2 kids), it would be a struggle to make less than about $50k (which is right at the national median income). Let's say $4000 a month before taxes. And I'd say that once you hit about $120k ($10,000 a month before taxes), you shouldn't be hurting too badly. Both of these numbers assume reasonable expenses (i.e. a mortgage about 25-33% of your take-home pay, maybe a car payment... obviously, if you stir in either especially frugal management or expensive toys like boats or luxury cars, that throws things off a bit). What do you think?
PS-I'm talking about gross income here, not taxable income... it may very well be that if we call $120k the start of "rich," they may only have to pay tax on $90-100k; likewise, the family making $48k may only have to pay tax on $25k or so when all deductions, exemptions, etc. are taken into account.