If you were making $1 million per year or more, but lost your job, would you file an unemployment claim? Nearly 3,000 American millionaires would have answered "yes" to this question in 2008, according to an article by Ryan J. Donmoyer at Bloomberg. IRS data shows that a whopping 2,840 households earning at least $1 million in 2008 also filed for government unemployment payments that year. There are two sort of immediate questions that arise from this fact: what were they thinking, and should this be allowed?
What They Were Thinking?
To non-millionaires it might seem absurd that people who had such a staggering income recently would turn to the government for help after losing their jobs. But it shouldn't. First, most wealthy people didn't become that way by accident. They tend to be pretty savvy about money. So if the law entitles them to collect unemployment when laid off, then they aren't the type to turn down free money. Only a fool would do that.
Moreover, for many millionaires, they might see their layoff as the one time they can finally get back some of the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars they've paid in taxes over the years. Many tax credits don't apply to them, if they're phased out for people with income above a certain threshold. They may as well cash in this once, just for principle's sake. After all, once they get back to a high paying job, they will have to revert back to paying the government a lot and getting little in return.