I mailed off my income tax payment this morning. Because I'm self-employed, I also have to pay a substantial amount of Social Security taxes -- the worker's and the employer's shares. It's always a big ouch in April when I write the check and settle up. I never feel more ready to embrace retirement than I do when faced with an ugly tax bill, a real punishment for working.
Last week, on the cusp of the income tax deadline, three senators jointly proposed raising the retirement age to 70 and the early retirement age to 64. The plan also would decrease benefits slightly for higher-earning people. The result, say Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, makes Social Security able to pay its obligations through 2080 without raising taxes.
People currently older than 56 wouldn't be affected, but that means a substantial majority of baby boomers would be. If this proposal sticks, they'll have to factor that into their retirement planning at the last minute.
When I've reported here on proposals to raise Social Security's age of eligibility, the reaction has been negative -- more than 200 people grumbled about this similar proposal from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Many who posted said that raising the Social Security minimum age punishes people who do physical work for a living and whose bodies wear out more quickly. No question about it -- that's a legitimate and widespread concern.
But today as I recover from the annual taxing ritual, I'm also particularly sympathetic with the senators' reluctance to raise taxes. We shouldn't punish people for working hard and earning a good living. That's not fair, either.