Cost Of Saving
There are may reasons people save far less than is optimal, but one is that our society is set up to discourage savings. Here are some of the ways this plays out:
- The government taxes capital gains at rates up to 20%. The SP500 averages 8.1% real returns; when you add 2% inflation, that 20% tax rate is an implied wealth tax of ~2.0% per year.
- Moreover, the government taxes corporate profits by about 17% on average Table 6.17D Table 6.18D. The (after-tax) P/E ratio is typically around 20, which implies a tax of "wealth" of ~1.0%.
- All? welfare programs are means-tested on income and many are also likewise means-tested based on assets. For instance, 41 states won't give low-income households TANF if they have more than $9,000 in assets Do Limits on Family Assets Affect Participation in, Costs of TANF?. Housing vouchers and medicaid have no asset limits, but their definition of income includes asset income Exhibit 5-2: Assets Medicaid, which is a similar idea.
- Expected parental contribution to college for their child is 12% of their non-exempt assets per year. For a single child, that adds up to an effective one-time tax of ~40% assuming 4 years of college Federal Student Aid: Need Analysis Formulas and Expected Family Contribution.
- If you are sued, the amount you pay typically increases dramatically with how much you own. This imposes an implied cost on wealth of around 0.01% Huneck.
- If you need emergency health care and don't have insurance, how much you end up paying depends in large part on much money you have saved.