Without any taxes, accepting that editor’s assignment would have yielded my children an extra $10,000. With taxes, it yields only $1,000. In effect, once the entire tax system is taken into account, my family’s marginal tax rate is about 90 percent. Is it any wonder that I turn down most of the money-making opportunities I am offered?
By contrast, without the tax increases advocated by the Obama administration, the numbers would look quite different. I would face a lower income tax rate, a lower Medicare tax rate, and no deduction phaseout or estate tax. Taking that writing assignment would yield my kids about $2,000. I would have twice the incentive to keep working.
The full column is here. Perhaps Greg could do more to (legally) evade the estate tax, but that's hardly an argument for raising such a tax.
Alternatively, Dan Ariely asks:
Let’s say that your 1040 came with a little extra stuff: maybe a container with an alcohol content, or perchance something of the chocolate persuasion. What if your tax forms arrived in a gift box with some financial documents on the side? What if the instructions for filling out the form told you to type in your personal information and take a bite of chocolate, type in your W-2 information and drink some of the alcohol, add your deductions and try some of the nuts etc? What if we could live in a world where you actually looked forward filling out these forms?