I read a disturbing article on MarketWatch.com this week. It suggested that the tax code is discriminatory against people of color. What I didn’t read in the article, nor have I ever seen, is any reference to a tax code or law that states people of color are not entitled to any available tax breaks. In other words, as far as I know, all tax credits, deductions and laws are the same, regardless of skin color. Please contact me with any evidence you have to the contrary.
This type of thing really gets to me, because I’ve also spent years listening to people suggest that the rich pay less in taxes or get more tax breaks than the poor, men get paid more than women, and countless other statements that suggest discrimination based on race, gender or financial status.
I was angry, felt victimized, and for a long time, thought there was nothing I could do about it. Now I know better; I’m no longer a victim; and feeling empowered allowed me to change my situation, without spreading false information that unintentionally victimized others, or waiting for the government, my employer or anyone else to change things for me. Please understand that I’m not saying discrimination does not exist, there are bad apples in every area of life, but we need to be careful about making blanket statements, based only on partial information.
Instead of focusing on what we hear, or what we think, let’s focus on what we can do to change our individual situations.
One – Taxes
As far as the rich paying less in taxes or getting more tax breaks than the poor, everything I’ve seen is quite the contrary. There are several tax breaks that have an income cap, meaning that if you make more than the cap, you do not qualify. But I’ve never heard of any that are only available to high income earners. That’s not to say that they won’t get a bigger credit or deduction for some things, but if they do, it’s because they are paying more taxes, due to a higher income. Do the math and you’ll find that low-income earners have the advantage. That’s apparent simply by looking at income tax brackets. The more you make, the higher percentage of that income you owe to the government.
The simple fact is, some people are aware of certain tax breaks and some people are not, so education is key! What we need to do is learn about tax breaks available to us! If you’re scoffing right now, I challenge you to google “tax breaks for low-income earners”. Believe me, I was once the person who said, “that will work for someone else, but not me.” That’s a copout! It’s a self-victimizing statement and it’s not true.
Two – The workplace
Do men really get paid more than women? If that’s true, why don’t companies hire only women? It would be way cheaper! If a man and woman are getting paid differently for the same job, perhaps a look into their other perks and benefits might shed some light on why. Salary is not the only consideration in a job. There are flexible schedules, insurance benefits and paid time off, to name a few. So before we make these judgements, we need to have all the facts.
But no matter your position or pay, does it really matter what anyone else is getting? You have the power and responsibility to negotiate with your employer. You’re exchanging time for money and other benefits. If you’re unhappy with your situation, change it! Negotiate a raise, get more education, find a new job or start your own business. Whatever anyone else is getting doesn’t change your situation.
Three – Investing
This is another area where low-income earners actually have an advantage. High income earners will get hit with long-term capital gains tax, if their investments grow. And if you tell me you have no money to invest, I’ll challenge you to consider fractional shares, which you can buy for as little as $5. Will it make you rich overnight? Of course not. Is it a start, and will it add up? You bet!
Four – Education
Statistically, you will make more money if you have a degree. That’s not to say it’s a requirement. After all, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was a Harvard dropout. But if you say you can’t get a degree because of your time or financial obligations, I will challenge you once again. Take one class at a time and get financial aid! It’s available at any age, and no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start. I have a friend that once told me “the time is going to pass anyway” when I told her how long it would take for me to get a degree. I listened, and I’m much closer to that degree than I was 2 years ago. It’s not happening as fast as I’d like, but I will get there, and when I do, I will have more income earning potential. Otherwise, I could be 10 years down the road wishing I’d gotten that degree.
Five – Manage Your Money
Get on a budget! If your finances are in chaos right now, you cannot tell me anything is impossible, because you don’t even know the reality of your situation. Getting a clear picture of your finances will give you the power to create a budget, a plan, that will take you where you want to go! A budget empowers you to make your money work for you, instead of wondering where it went. Be intentional with your money, stay the course and you will reach that goal!
So, there you have it – 5 ways to go from financial victim to financial victor!
Bottom line, if you feel like you’re in a position where you can’t make a change, think again. It might not be easy, it might mean major sacrifices in the short term, but you can do it! Don’t wait for the government to change, don’t hope for a winning lottery ticket, don’t wait for your employer to offer you a raise. Think about what you can do today, to change your situation and act on it!
If you need help getting started or want to brainstorm ways to go from financial victim to financial victor, reach out to me and let’s chat! And if you have other ideas for becoming a financial victor, email me: email@example.com.