What the experts say
Taxing college financial aid
A provision in the 2017 tax law treats “middle- and low-income college students as if they are trust-fund babies,” said Erica Green in The New York Times. The so-called kiddie tax rate was established in 1986 to impose taxes on children for both earned income, such as salaries from summer jobs, and unearned income, which includes nontuition scholarships that cover room and board. It was designed “to prevent wealthy parents from funneling money to their children to lower their tax burdens” and was tied to how much the child’s parents earned. But Republicans simplified the code to make everyone pay rates “applicable to trusts.” That effectively capped the rate paid by wealthy families while raising it to 37 percent for students with large financial aid packages—which are usually awarded to those from families with lesser means.
What it takes to be rich
“How much money do you need to be wealthy in America?” asked Suzanne Woolley in Bloomberg.com. The answer you give may depend on your age. According to Charles Schwab’s annual wealth survey, the average net worth that people said it took to be rich came to $2.3 million. The number was higher for Baby Boomers, who put it at $2.6 million. That was slightly more than the figure for Gen Xers ($2.5 million) and 35 percent higher than the number for Millennials ($1.9 million). But more than three-quarters of Millennials “said their personal definition of wealth was really about the way they live their lives, rather than a discrete dollar amount.” Whatever the threshold, Americans are optimistic about reaching it, with 60 percent saying they expected to be wealthy within one to 10 years.
New grad salaries flatten out
Starting salaries for college graduates have been on a hot streak in recent years, said Kelsey Gee in The Wall Street Journal, but the growth rate may be slowing. “Salaries for entry-level jobs for new-degree holders average $51,347 in 2019, up 1.9 percent over last year—which is virtually flat adjusting for inflation.” Some of the biggest increases are in unexpected professions. “Marketing analysts, for example, are expected to earn $52,557 this year, reflecting a 5.4 percent increase” over 2018. But software developers will see only a 1.4 percent increase from the year before, to an average starting salary of $68,145. Despite the strength of the job market, the raise is significantly smaller than those of 2016 and 2017.