Firstly, my apologies if this isn't the right forum for this - I couldn't spot a better one!

We are all born, pay taxes and die.

Depending on where we live, those taxes will (hopefully) be used to pay for our medical care when we are born, our education, maybe our college fees, health care during our lives and perhaps social care when we get too old to look after ourselves. Not to mention defending our country (armed forces) and keeping the streets safe (police).

Some of us will be fortunate enough to earn lots of money, pay tax on that money and still be able to pay for their own healthcare, their children's education and their own care when they get old. These people are likely to pay much more in taxes than they will ever receive back in benefits from the state.

Others won't be so fortunate, maybe they'll have periods of unemployment, maybe they have long-term (or just expensive) medical problems, or maybe they just won't pay much tax because they don't earn much in the first place.

In summary - some people will, over the course of their life, contribute far more in taxes than they will receive back in benefits. Others will receive much more in benefits than they ever contribute.

There must be a break-even income where a persons' overall, lifetime, tax contribution matches the total of all the benefits he receives.

So, assuming a typical working life of 45-50 years and an average life expectancy what should my average salary be over that period to eventual break-even? to be neither a net-contributor nor a net-consumer?

For the purposes of this question, I'm assuming UK rates of taxation and benefits although if there are figures for other countries I'd be happy to have those too! I'm also just asking about financial contributions/costs, not considering the relative social contributions of different types of jobs (i.e. nurses compared to stock-brokers etc)

UPDATE - I think I've found most of the answer at this link .

  • 1
    I will not vote to close, but this question is too broad and pointless. Tax laws change during lifetime, pension systems are collapsing, employment and level of income hardly are susceptible of being planned in the long-term. Many ramifications of Brexit are still uncertain/unforeseeable, whence making salary/expenses projections on a longer-time horizon is even more unpredictable. – Iñaki Viggers Oct 10 at 17:32
  • You can post and accept your own answer if you like. – BKay Oct 11 at 12:04

Generally, only the top 1% pay significant taxes. Nearly half of taxes in the US are paid by the top 1% of taxpayers.

So in order to pay an average tax burden you need to make hundreds of K a year.

  • 1
    this is just plain wrong. First, the share isn't that high. The top 1% receive about 20% of total income, which translates into 40% of all income taxes paid. Second, this is only about income taxes, while everybody pays consumption taxes, payroll taxes etc. Besides, this number is more an artifact of strong income inequality than a strongly progressive tax system. – E. Sommer Oct 12 at 13:32

The premise of the question is fundamentally flawed.

People contribute to the economy, and therefore to the exchequer, as much through their actions as their direct taxes. The most obvious example of this is that salaried workers produce more than they are paid, and this excess provides profits to the company and its owners, but it also operates through simple consumption and unpaid labour. Thus calculating that someone paid X taxes and received Y services and so has a net X-Y balance is essentially meaningless because it is a far too narrow conception of how people contribute.

  • Please re-read the penultimate sentence - I'm deliberately only looking at actual financial (i.e. money) contributions to the economy, NOT social contributions. You're right, attempting to asses the social contribution of different people makes it an almost impossible question to answer. (it's hard enough as it is!) – Hemel Oct 12 at 12:51
  • @Hemel: Ignoring social consequences also makes your question meaningless - because social and financial aren't that separable - but as most of my answer isn't about social factors that's not a great objection. Simply adding up taxes is a nonsense notion of someone's contribution to the finances of the country. There's no value in calculating it. – Jack Aidley Oct 12 at 12:53
  • I was trying to keep the question on a purely financial / economic level. Asking the cut-off point between being an overall financial contributor, and an financial consumer is (or should be) a simple matter of maths. – Hemel Oct 12 at 13:07
  • @Hemel: You can calculate taxes - spending. Sort of. But it's a completely meaningless number because it completes fails to capture what peoples' actual financial contribution is. – Jack Aidley Oct 12 at 13:54

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