Dear IRS: I am not in the 1%


According to this article from Slate,

“Most Americans think “the rich” should pay more to the IRS — the trick is figuring out how to define those loaded so-and-sos. The most basic way to do it: look at the income distribution and pick a cutoff. According to the World Top Incomes Database, a household income of about $113,000 lands you at the top 10th, while $394,000 makes you a bona fide member of the 1 percent.”

Well, my family, that is. I am not sure what my parents make, but I know it is somewhere between the figures listed here for the top 10% and 1% of earners in this country. Though these figures label us as “upper class”, why does that feel so far from the truth?

Neither of my parents finished college at a traditional age. My father never graduated at all, and my mom went back to school in her mid-thirties to finish her degree. The only reason she did so was because she was not “qualified” for the job she was pursuing without it. My dad is now a cabinet salesman, and my mom worked as a babysitter out of our home, and later in the public school system.

Though I have never gone hungry or without a home, I know that my family’s financial state has been far from “cushy” growing up. My little sister has worn my hand-me-down clothes, we reserved going out to eat for special occasions, and family vacations were typically out of the question, unless we were going to stay with friends or relatives. If we did vacation, it was always a long car ride to get there; planes were too expensive. When my father’s job relocated our family from rural Ohio to Chicago, things became even more stretched. We had to move around three times, finally settling in the Southwest side of the city before we were able to find a living situation we could afford. If it weren’t for generous scholarships, we would be neck-deep in my college loan debt, and my sister hasn’t even graduated from high school yet!


The middle class is disappearing. Now that we have started making a comfortable living, does this mean we should be labeled “upper class”? The fact that “average” or “comfortable” in this country is now considered upper class, and that a combined household income of only $113,000 puts you in the top 10% of earners highlights a dire problem we face in the USA. According to the IRS, we are “rich”. I beg to differ, and refused to be taxed as such. These tax brackets that put everyday American families together with million-and-billionaires are extremely corrupt, and a reevaluation of what makes someone wealthy or not is desperately needed. The fact that that kind of income places you in the highest rungs of American society also proves that there needs to be a push for higher wages. If I have felt the pressures of money stress, imagine what a family making less than mine feels, especially in a city as expensive as Chicago.

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