## How Much is \$250,000?

Told that someone earns \$250,000 a year, you should ask, “Where do you live?”

According to CNN, you would need to earn \$545,000 in Manhattan to spend what \$250,000 will buy in Missoula, Montana. On this map, you can see how your cost of living compares to the national average.

Specifically, here is a shopping list: “ground beef, tuna, milk, eggs, margarine, potatoes, bananas, bread, orange juice, coffee, sugar and cereal.” In Manhattan: \$40.29; In Twin Falls, Idaho: \$23.41.

Buying a 3-4 bedroom house? \$750,000 in Glendale, California; \$375,000 in Twin Falls, Idaho.

You can see where this is going. At first, it sounds simple. President Obama suggested \$250,000 as a dividing line for increasing taxes. One number, one level of income. But is it?

The Economic Lesson

Taxes can relate to income in 3 basic ways:

• Progressive taxation takes a higher percent from those who have higher incomes.
• Regressive taxation takes a higher percent from those with lower incomes.
• Proportional taxation takes the same percent from all.

Our current income tax approach is progressive while a sales tax is regressive.

An Economic Question: Using data from this map, explain how the cost of living varies.