How is the Average ME Taxpayer (AMT) Faring, Coping?

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Joined: 04/18/2009 - 3:43pm
How is the Average ME Taxpayer (AMT) Faring, Coping?

How is the average Maine taxpayer (AMT) faring, coping with the double-barrels of President Obama's economic policies and the road back from three decades of disastrous Democrat economic policies in Maine? I ask because how the AMT is staying above water - or not - is never mentioned by the Left when it campaigns for increasing the tax burden on AMT's. In other words, the Left is quick and loud in pushing new taxes without regard for how those taxes will impact the women and men who will pay them.

So I thought it would be instructive to invite taxpayers to post thoughts on how the current U.S./Maine economy is impacting their lives. And I'll narrow the focus to one year: February 2011 to February 2012. I'm not suggesting a pity party. Just some real life economic situations.

I'll go first: One of my immediate goals is replacing the $10,500 annual income I lost when two part-time jobs I had for a decade disappeared. Rising gas and food prices make that loss worse.


Joined: 11/26/2007 - 8:29pm
I own a small/medium retail

I own a small/medium retail store (18 employees). Sales for 2011 were up over 10% and my profit was up about 15%. I also gave each of my employees (part- and full-time) 5 weeks pay as a year-end bonus. (Usually their year end bonus if 1-2 weeks pay.) They also got an annual raise of 5-10%.

So far this year (2012)sales are up another 10% over last year's. So, I can't complain and consider myself really blessed . . . or lucky . . . or whatever.

However, on a different note, a couple of years ago I had to close another business I owned because of the bad economy and lack of sales (and, truth be told, probably some bad management on my part). I had that retail business open for 20 years and it was sad to close the doors.

Bruce Libby
Joined: 01/17/2006 - 7:08pm
Fairing OK, Coping well the

Fairing OK, Coping well the roller coaster ride of price increases and the size of them is driving me crazy . The impact is definitely felt and I consider myself lucky as all our obligations beyond mortgage are small and manageable at the moment.
A late unplanned trip to Washington this evening was telling it appears gas has taken a 5 to 7 cent increase in last week along Rt 1 !

Joined: 03/11/2009 - 10:06am
SKF I wonder if the question

SKF I wonder if the question would be better if it was "how is the average Maine wage earner doing/"
There are plenty of people who are working and outside of SS taxes don't pay state or federal income taxes and many are renters who pay no direct property taxes.
I know in the past there have been some numbers produced that looked at average rents, car payments, insurances, heat, electric, food etc for different sized families and then spoke to what they would have to take home to live at an above poverty level. A new set of figures for the current econmy would be interesting.
There's absolutely no doubt about it, for many things are much worse under the current economic policies.The thing I hear most often is the cost of gas ,transportation to work and heat for their homes and how that has impacted everything else in their household budgets.
I know that my view is simplistic to many but a sustained effort to bring down energy cost , which includes exploration , tax incentives, over sight of market manipulation, and sensible investments in new technology as well as a move away from environmental blackmail is the solution.
. It all starts there ,lower energy costs gets the economic ball rolling and drives down the cost of living.

Joined: 02/13/2009 - 12:16pm
We are doing ok, but then

We are doing ok, but then again we have little or no debt. We do not go out to eat, no movies no extras. So compared to most we can get by on a lot less. I do not see things improving so long as liberals think there is endless money, they just have to either take it or print it.

Joined: 12/11/1999 - 1:01am
Well I have said this before

Well I have said this before and you are probably tired of it, but this retired old man and his wife are getting the same retirement, to the penny that I received in 1992. Yes SS has gone up a bit, but only small amounts and when one looks at the rising cost of food, heat, gasoline, healthcare, electricity and property taxes; we have to dip into our savings to make ends meet.

What I don't understand is how the liberals cannot see that the more in the wagon the harder it is for those pulling the wagon. One half of Americans do not pay any income taxes. That is fact, and those pulling the wagon are getting very tired of it. What this recession did was take more away from pulling and put them into the wagon. Some will never now get out. Our ever so smart congresscritters have created a society of dependent loafers who are comfortable living off of the hard work of those who still have jobs.

It cannot last and it will not. At some point the whole will collapse and then the chaos begins. It is only a matter of time!

Mike Travers
Joined: 08/04/2002 - 12:01am
If I could just convince the

If I could just convince the wife to take a third job, I believe we could move up to a "name brand" macaroni and cheese lifestyle.

Joined: 01/08/2006 - 11:52am
This AMT is keeping his head

This AMT is keeping his head just above water.
Income is 42 percent lower than last year (slowing marketplace)
Spouse's long-term illness
Too much debt (poor planning; but chipping away at it)
Increasing energy and health insurance costs

Warmer winter = less oil
Reduced work travel = savings (wear & tear, maintenance)
Equity in home (one, low, fixed rate mortgage)

I take responsibility for taking on more debt, but rising food and energy prices have got me focused like a laser on cutting costs, debt pay-down. Thus, fewer of my dollars moving into the economy.

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
The stories on this thread

The stories on this thread are familiar. I don't know where Government is getting their stats, but the price increases on food are worse than those on oil and gas. Common grocery items that cost 50 cents a couple years ago have now tripled, to $1.50, even on store brands. The cost for insurance and utilities continues to rise, as do taxes.

Everyone I know is either laid off; or working but using savings to make up the difference on price increases; keeping the heat at 50; cutting medications, skipping doctor and dentist appointments, putting off car and home repairs, and eating twice a day to make every penny stretch as far as possible. They're mostly all living in some degree of fear - whether mild, or serious - about the future and their financial situation.

To put it mildly, for most, things ain't getting better - they're getting worse.

Joined: 04/20/2000 - 12:01am
The cancer that is eating us

The cancer that is eating us cannot be looked at over only one year because it has been going on and metastasizing since the 1930s. When FDR allowed the unions to dictate wages he created a trickle down that is fine if there is full employment, but when the Congress removed the tariffs and allowed employers to manufacture outside the US or foreign competitors with lower wage costs to access our markets, their actions became more apparent.

It is hardest on those of us who have had to live off savings, which would have sufficed if it were not for government induced inflation. You can look at the debt we are piling up as deferred taxes because if they were imposed on you today, you would be crushed under the burden. Where has most of that money gone, to government workers and whose businesses, like Bath Iron Works, Lockheed and other primarily defense industries. If you don't believe me just click on my topic the hidden cost of education posted on this blog.

The public sector is prospering as never before and it is the private sector that is paying for it.

Mike Lange
Joined: 12/26/2006 - 6:23am
As a combination wagon-rider

As a combination wagon-rider (Social Security and a small Army Reserve pension) and puller (part-time job that sometimes averages 35 hours per week), I am actually worse off than previous years because of high fuel prices and miniscule interest rates on my IRA. So we're just hanging in there and hoping for a better spring and summer.

Melvin Udall
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
"fixed income' choices at

"fixed income' choices at this point make anything but eating into your nest egg virtually impossible.

CD's with .35% interest rates are being bragged about!

Joined: 03/12/2005 - 1:01am
My wife and I are late 30's,

My wife and I are late 30's, 3 kids, 2 of them in single digit age.

Past few years have wiped away nearly 10 years of equity paid into our house. We just refinanced and the appraisal came in at almost the refinance price. Net equity: almost zero. Trying to sell......

Fuel oil is killing me. Gas- ditto. Food- ditto.

Thankfully, I have pretty good insurance so not so bad there.

Wife's business is holding steady providing music classes for young children and their parents.

In addition to my "real job", I'm trying to start a side business. I think that will be OK once I devote the time to it, but we're still deciding whether we want to stay here or give ourselves instant raises by moving to a warmer and more business friendly climate.

Melvin Udall
Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
Don't forget to factor in the

Don't forget to factor in the psychic income of quality of place as you do your analysis.

Tom C
Joined: 01/03/2006 - 6:00pm
Income-wise, I'm doing OK, I

Income-wise, I'm doing OK, I have as much work as I can handle, and have even been (shudder) turning down work. I've spent the last 15 years paying down debt, so I feel like I am getting ahead. I have been healthy, so I am lucky there. Lost a lot of dough with home equity (bought at the top of the market) but with a 15 year mortgage, I'm been paying it down as fast as the value has been dropping, so I'm not "under water." My monthly payment is affordable, so I don't worry about the value, etc. it's no sweat. I paid off a mortgage on a commercial property this year, (a year early) so I feel like I have a little extra breathing room.

What is causing a lot of pain this year is oil. I drive a lot, so I take a hit at the pump, I've cut out an average of 150 miles a week of my regular driving by eliminating some activities. Heating oil is a killer. I have 3 young and healthy oil tanks to feed, and it is a traumatic experience every time I call the delivery service. I have some 5 galllon cans I use to add to the tanks from time to time to stretch the time between deliveries.

I'm extremely frugal by nature ("parsimonious", according to my ex-wife's lawyer) so I think I'll get by no matter what comes.

Joined: 01/14/2011 - 12:21pm
We are doing pretty good, but

We are doing pretty good, but most of that is because we have so little debt. I just had to put a new roof on one of our houses (we both had them when we got together), so that necessitated a HELOC because I grossly underestimated the cost of a new one. I was paying the heating oil in mine until I found some housesitters and she has a pellet stove (what a Godsend, use is about 1/3 the cost of fuel oil). We both have VW TDI cars and we're getting 45-48 mpg with them, so fuel isn't a killer unless she takes her KIA SUV (the newest car has 190,000 miles on it, so no payments). Food is the big ticket item, with a lot more money going out so we have adjusted our eating habits, which will help towards losing weight for our wedding this summer anyway.

Our state of being is directly related to the choices we have made in the past. As such, we have insulated ourselves somewhat from current events so we are less impacted by them. But if fuel increases much more, I'll stop taking occasional trips to the White Mountains and instead hike more locally. She did pick up another job but mine negates the availability to do the same due to the requirments.

Friends all around us are doing much worse though, and I know someone who has slept in their car on numerous occasions this winter due to an inability to pay their rent.

Joined: 11/28/2006 - 9:09am
My wife and I will retire

My wife and I will retire from full-time employment this year.

Naturally, we're planning to resign as Maine taxpayers and move to one of the many states that use friendly tax rates to attract and keep residents.

We're not rich, but the net present value of our prospective income tax obligations to Maine will just about pay the rent elsewhere. Thank you, Great State of Maine!

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Maine will be the sadder for

Maine will be the sadder for losing you, Economike. I hope you will still check in and post on AMG, so you can still offer your reasoned thoughts and observations.


Feb 21, 11:41 AM EST

Maine heating oil prices up for 5th straight week

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- ....

Maine's energy office said...the average statewide price of No. 2 oil was $3.79 a gallon. Northern Maine had the highest average price, while prices were lowest in the southwestern part of the state.

....crude oil prices ...highest they've been since last May amid turmoil in Iran and Syria and potential inroads to resolving the Greek economic crisis....

Kerosene ...$4.18 a gallon.... Propane ... $3.19 a gallon ....


Joined: 11/28/2006 - 9:09am
Maine will be the sadder for

Maine will be the sadder for losing you, Economike. I hope you will still check in and post on AMG, so you can still offer your reasoned thoughts and observations.

Thanks, Naran. I'll still be here, for slightly less than six months per year.

And, just hoping, maybe the government of Maine will reduce the attractive subsidy it's offering us for leaving.

Joined: 09/08/2007 - 6:08am
We are stithering along. The

We are stithering along. The mortgage will be paid in 2 more years, both the wife and I have jobs, the cars are all old ('93, '96, & 02) We can afford a restaurant maybe 6 times a year, buy lobster and boil them in the yard maybe 3 times a year. After paying all the bills there is nothing left, so no new savings or investments for many years. We both claim 0 single on our withholding and this is the first year we didn't have to pay Maine more while getting a federal refund.

Mike G
Joined: 02/17/2000 - 1:01am
We have no past debt which

We have no past debt which saves us, the income in real dollars is decreasing, but as good conservatives do, we manage through less expenditures of unnecessary goods. I'd say our incomes have leveled out at the post bubble crash, which was a 50% decrease from 08.

There might be a slight increase from 08 but not that can be seen in the bank account, and I haven't paid my taxes yet, but know the state and feds are not taking as much as they had just because of income. There lies the shortfall for both.

IN a CONSUMER society, the base for what they say drives ours, I've decreased that drive significantly.

Staying busy means get in firewood, tapping a few trees and managing what you have rather than buying it through goods or services has always been the Maine way, but in better times I'd hire someone.

Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
So, in this "snapshot"

So, in this "snapshot" thread, 1 out of 20 Mainers is seeing an increase to prosperity, and for the rest, income/prosperity is barely holding steady, or is in serious decline.

So much for the "rich Republicans" I keep hearing about.

Mike Travers
Joined: 08/04/2002 - 12:01am
Naran, I need to correct your

Naran, I need to correct your spelling. Richrepublican is one word, similar to taxcutsforthewealthy. The plural is richrepublicanswhodon'twanttopaytheirfairshare. You may want to update your spellcheck.

Joined: 03/23/2008 - 12:32pm
Economike, like you, I am

Economike, like you, I am thinking of becoming a former Maine resident. The reasons are that my income is not only pretty well fixed but is, in fact, declining. I planned to live off the earnings from my savings and 401(k) and draw down the principle a little as needed. As we all know, the "safer" investments pay near zero for earnings and with the Whack-O Obama at the helm I have no stomach for equities. The income tax in Maine coupled with the highest gasoline prices around added to the devastating fuel oil prices, sales tax and the current taxes based on inflated and artificial property values are all convincing me that Maine ain't the place to be for 6 months and 1 day out of the year.

Joined: 08/11/2005 - 12:01am
I fear I too will be out of

I fear I too will be out of state for at least 6 months and 1 day after I retire. My wife and I are doing OK thanks to zero debt and frugal living, but it gets harder to watch each April as a significant part of our earnings gets taken by the state to distribute between the trough feeders and the welfare crowd.

My daughter left the state after graduation to live where her talents are rewarded. My son just graduated and his job allows him to live almost anywhere in the country. His plans are to move to New Hampshire where, "The tax savings alone will pay a big chunk of my mortgage".

Joined: 11/28/2006 - 9:09am
"The tax savings alone will

"The tax savings alone will pay a big chunk of my mortgage".

Living with Maine's tax burden reminds me of the joke about the man who hit himself on his head with a hammer. It felt so good when he stopped!

It's ironic that the foregone cost of paying to be a Maine resident translates into big jump in disposable income for anyone who heads south over the Piscataqua.

Joined: 08/11/2005 - 12:01am
I always hear that New

I always hear that New Hampshire residents pay more in property taxes than Mainers do. Of course they do. New Hampshire residents can afford to buy bigger, better houses so of course they'll pay more in property taxes.

Brian Golden
Joined: 05/24/2003 - 12:01am
Our income is down about

Our income is down about $30,000 due to a job loss. The job has been replaced with a much lower paying job. With a kid in college it stings a bit ,but we're doing okay. We heat with natural gas so that is helping .Four more years on the mortgage and we will be debt free. I don't see good things coming our way.

Bob S
Joined: 07/15/2011 - 8:59am
Living paycheck to paycheck.

Living paycheck to paycheck. No money. No money to stimulate the economy, no money to support local business. No money to travel or to take a vacation. The only thing I spend money on is taxes, utilities and gas to go to and from work.

M.D. Harmon
Joined: 09/17/2004 - 12:01am
Sigh. We'll both be retired

Sigh. We'll both be retired soon, and the kids and grandkids are all nearby except one set, so we're not moving someplace we can't see them regularly. Call it the "grandchild premium." Besides, there's a chance things will improve taxwise here. If the socialists were still running things, that wouldn't happen. I'd like to be a rich Republican, but so far I've only managed half of that. And it's the half that's not reportable on a 1040....

M.D. Harmon
Joined: 09/17/2004 - 12:01am
I also just realized that it

I also just realized that it has been at least 15 years since I bought a new car (that is, not a used one).


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