The biggest expenses for working families are typically: Insurance, Housing, Education, Food, Utilities, Fuel, Auto/Transport, and local and state taxes.
However, if you don’t work, you may be eligible for tax-free benefits in all of these key expense areas. Presently, there are 14 states where public benefits would be equal to $80-100,000 dollars per year. [i] Here is a list of some common forms of public assistance:
Free Salary, Free Food & Free Health Care
1. Unemployment Insurance: This is a government program that provides financial assistance to individuals who have lost their jobs. Eligibility requirements may include having worked a certain number of hours or earning a minimum amount of income. These are state by state benefits where you apply in your state of residence. [ii]
2. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP provides assistance to low-income individuals and families to help them purchase food. [iii]
3. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This program provides financial assistance to families with dependent children who are experiencing economic hardship.
4. Free Health Care - Medicaid: This is a government health insurance program for individuals and families with low income. [iv] Since Obamacare is not affordable, most low income Americans are avoiding mediocre and costly health programs and choosing free Medicaid and free emergency care.
5. Job Training and Placement Programs: Some government-funded programs provide training and placement services to help unemployed individuals acquire new skills and find employment.
6. CareerOneStop: This is a U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored website that provides information and resources to help job seekers find employment, training, and career development opportunities. I have personally volunteered for 4 administrations to help the US Dept of Labor and their economists provide this service.
7. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers resources and assistance to individuals who are interested in starting or expanding their own business.
8. Public School – Free education and free meals are available for children ages 5-19 years old. Some states are moving to free meals for all students and raising taxes on high earners. [v]
Free Housing & Free Utilities
As for housing, here are some public programs: There are several types of housing assistance available for those in need, including:
1. Public Housing: Public housing is a program in which the government provides low-income individuals and families with rental housing at a subsidized rate. The units are owned and managed by local public housing authorities. [vi]
2. Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8): This program provides rental assistance to low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Recipients are able to choose their own housing, and the program pays a portion of their rent directly to the landlord. [vii]
3. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): This program helps low-income households pay for heating and cooling costs. [viii]
4. Homeless Assistance Programs: There are several programs that provide temporary housing and support services to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness.
5. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps low-income families build and purchase their own homes. [ix]
6. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): These grants are provided to states and local communities to support affordable housing and community development initiatives.
7. Rural Housing Programs: The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers several programs to assist low-income individuals and families in rural areas with affordable housing.
Free Phone & Internet
There are programs that offer free or low-cost internet and phone services to low-income individuals and families. Here are a few examples:
1. Lifeline Program: This program provides discounted phone and internet services to eligible low-income individuals and families. Participants can receive a discount of up to $9.25 per month on their phone or internet bill. [x]
2. Connect2Compete: This program provides affordable internet and devices to low-income families with school-age children. Eligible households can receive internet service for as low as $9.95 per month. [xi]
3. Internet Essentials: This program, offered by Comcast, provides low-cost internet service and devices to eligible low-income families. Participants can receive internet service for as low as $9.95 per month and can purchase a laptop or desktop computer for $149.99. [xii]
4. Access from AT&T: This program offers low-cost internet service to eligible low-income households for as low as $5 per month. [xiii]
5. EveryoneOn: This nonprofit organization helps low-income individuals and families connect to affordable internet and devices. They offer a search tool to find available offers in your area. [xiv]
Free college or reduced-cost college is generally available for qualified low-income families. Here are a few examples:
· The Federal Pell Grant: This is a need-based grant that provides financial assistance to low-income undergraduate students to help cover the cost of tuition, fees, and other educational expenses. The maximum award amount for the 2021-2022 academic year is $6,495.
· State-Sponsored Programs: Some states offer their own free college programs or scholarship programs for low-income students. For example, the Tennessee Promise provides free tuition and fees to eligible students attending a community college or technical school in Tennessee.
· The College Promise Campaign: This is a national initiative to make two years of community college tuition-free for eligible students. Several states and cities have implemented College Promise programs, including Oregon, Rhode Island, and New York City.
· Work Colleges: These are federally recognized institutions that offer students the opportunity to work on campus to help cover the cost of tuition and fees. The seven main Work Colleges in the United States are Alice Lloyd College, Berea College, Blackburn College, College of the Ozarks, Ecclesia College, Sterling College, and Warren Wilson College.
In sum, most working folks must do their job for 40-60 hours a week, pay taxes, and pay for overpriced health care. Further, workers are taxed heavily on earnings and payments for: utilities, real estate, housing, home insurance, travel, commuting, work clothes, internet, phone, fuel, education, alcohol, entertainment, and even meals.
My recommendation is that anyone who gets a job and earns less than $100,000 per year with a family of 2 or more should have access to any and all of the above mentioned benefits and tax-free benefits.
The rational is that if you are working and productive, you are contributing taxes and supporting widows, orphans, the disabled and those in need. If you are contributing, then you should have worker benefits. Overall, the government is going to need to become a taxpayer oriented body that provides union style benefits; otherwise, it will continue to be unsustainable.
Overall, workers should have access to affordable insurance, health care, and housing. Workers, entrepreneurs, and salaried employees should be able to deduct or expense 100% of items such as: commuting to work, cell phones, health supplies and supplements, Internet, food at work, parking, tolls, work clothes cleaning fees, child care, pet care, life insurance, disability insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, and even annual vacations.
While millions get “Tax Free” income, tax free health care, tax free food, tax free housing, tax free utilities and tax free phones/internet, and tax free college, the working folks must pay tax on their income before paying for most necessities that allow them to be productive.
Presently, according to government figures, credit card debt for working folks is up 25% in the last 2 years to almost $1 trillion in household debt. [xv] When Obama was running for president, he would persistently claim that the USA was a rich nation, but $20 trillion in new debt have been added by big spending politicians since Obama won office where the inheritance of this nation seems to have been squandered. Overall, unless this nation incentivizes productivity, the cycle of failure may continue.
In this next election, the candidate who has the ability to articulate new benefits for the workers and their families will probably win the election big. Workers are getting killed by inflation and interest rates, while those who receive tax free public assistance and tax free benefits seem to be winning at the game of life.
Many of the unemployed may be enjoying $100,000 dollar per year lifestyle in urban areas. In sum, the breakeven point has been crossed where it simply doesn’t add-up to go to work if your tax-free benefits outweigh getting a job that may reduce or cancel free government benefits.
Disclaimer: Seek licensed professional advice before making any important decision. Benefits vary from state to state and with each family circumstance.
Commissioner George Mentz JD MBA CILS CWM® is an international lawyer, speaker, educator, tax-economist, and CEO of the GAFM Global Academy of Finance & Management ®. The GAFM is a ESQ accredited graduate body that trains and certifies professionals in 150+ nations under CHEA ACBSP and ISO 21001 standards. Mentz is also an award winning author and graduate law professor of wealth management for a top U.S. law school.
[i] It pays not to work in Biden's America thanks to welfare benefits (nypost.com)
[ii] NYS Unemployment Insurance – ACCESS NYC
[iii] USDA ERS - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
[iv] Medicaid.gov: the official U.S. government site for Medicare | Medicaid
[v] More Colorado districts to offer free school lunch for all students next year - Chalkbeat Colorado
[vi] Public Housing | HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
[vii] Housing Choice Voucher Program Section 8 | HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
[viii] Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov)
[ix] Habitat for Humanity
[x] Lifeline and ACP Free Wireless Plans | TruConnect
[xi] Cox Connect2Compete | Affordable Home Internet
[xii] Internet Essentials - Free Internet from Xfinity
[xiii] Access from AT&T - Low-Cost Internet Service | AT&T Internet (att.com)
[xv] 2023 Credit Card Debt Statistics | LendingTree 1 Trillion Debt
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