Millionaires collected nearly $80M in jobless benefits during economic downturn
WASHINGTON — The federal government paid almost $80 million in unemployment benefits during the worst of the economic downturn to households that made more than $1 million, including a record $29.9 million in 2010, tax records show.
Almost 3,200 households — about 20 percent of them from New York — that reported adjusted gross income of more than $1 million received jobless-insurance payments averaging $12,600 in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, according to IRS data compiled by Bloomberg. Those payments outpaced the total incomes for about 25 million households.
The $80 million represents less than 0.01 percent of this year's $845 billion projected deficit. Yet the unemployment aid to millionaire households underscores the lack of means-testing in some federal aid programs.
The aid also is a reminder of the difficulty of reining in spending.
“So many people are taking advantage of government support that they probably feel like, why shouldn't they take advantage of it, too?” said George Walper Jr., president of the Spectrem Group, a Chicago-based market-research and consulting firm that tracks the number of households worth more than $1 million.
Lawmakers have repeatedly tried to end or limit benefits to high-income households.
A January report by the Congressional Research Service found at least five such efforts.
The House of Representatives passed legislation in December 2011 as part of a jobs bill that would have taxed unemployment benefits at 100 percent for single filers with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million or married filers reporting $2 million in income.
The provision wasn't included in the bill signed by President Obama.
The Internal Revenue Service doesn't release information about individual income tax filers, so it's impossible to identify specific millionaires who received unemployment benefits.
It's also unknown whether the benefits were paid to a person who earned $1 million during a year in which they were unemployed for part of the time, or to a spouse.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Reagan shooter Hinckley closer to permanent freedom
- Ohio woman finds mother, sister — at work
- ‘Dr. Oz’ to counter criticisms on air
- Keystone pipeline project gains favor among nearby liberals, study shows
- GOP invokes Benghazi, Obama in ripping Clinton
- FBI unit supplied flawed forensics
- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago dead at 78
- Scientists: Oil spill has harmed health of Gulf of Mexico
- Dementia patients’ rights considered
- New York City rent increases oust small retailers
- Shuster admits to ‘personal relationship’ with airline industry lobbyist