The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Welfare should be considered taxable income

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,137 times Debate No: 25193
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




I believe this is a straight forward debate. I will be arguing that welfare should be taxable income, thus subject to income taxes. Currently, welfare is not taxed at the federal level, and I doubt any state level (however, some states may include it in other calculations such as property tax refunds).

Welfare is government payments to the poor, elderly, and/or disabled including, but not limited to: housing assistance, food stamps, medical treatment, and others. This definition excludes tax credits.

The first round is for acceptance and clarification. No new arguments in final round. Caution, only 5,000 characters allowed.

I do not expect to use many sources, so I ask that voters disregard points for sources used. I expect this to be a debate using logic and reasoning, not so much facts from sources. But, we will see what happens...


While I am against welfare in general, if it's going to be provided it shouldn't be taxable income. The money comes from the government in the first place to provide for people who are unable or unwilling to work. To tax this money makes no sense as it comes from the government. To tax it, would just be effectively giving less welfare money as its source is the same as the place the tax revenue would end up at. Technically, these people's incomes are zero. There is nothing to tax. The money given is thought to be what they need, and nothing more. I support the notion that people on welfare should have to work or do something productive set-up by the government to collect their checks. That tax would actually contribute to society rather than money being circular. Taxing people who get their money from the tax collectors is pure sophism and should not be implemented.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this debate. I would like to point out that the first round was for acceptance, so you were not supposed to make any arguments…

There are two types of welfare recipients: those that are truly needy and those that are needy due to expenses. Regardless, there are three main points to consider.

1. There is little or no effect for these individuals who are truly needy.
Con actually made this point by stating that these people have no taxable income. If this is true, then there would be little to no additional taxes owed by these individuals by taxing their welfare. Additionally, there are tax credits that also help these people, so even if there is taxable income, these individuals will likely not pay the taxman one dime.

2. “Skin in the game”
In case you did not know, welfare is based on a household’s expenses, not their income per se. There are thresholds for income to qualify, but expenses affect the amount of welfare received (at least for EBT in MN). Because choices can be made that increase welfare AND quality of life, these funds should be considered income.

So, the truly needy are living modestly off the government, while paying no taxes. However, we have people that choose to seek welfare instead of using their wealth or cutting their expenses [3]. If people want to keep their house and their possessions and go on welfare, they should pay taxes on it.

Is it fair that if my cable bill rises, I may cancel because I can’t afford it, but if one is on welfare, they may get MORE benefits? These benefits should be taxed as if they were ordinary income, because these people (and those that abuse/defraud welfare) are maintaining, possibly even improving, their quality of life.

We also have people that live “high on the hog” on welfare. Not to say these people live like kings, but they live comfortably given their financial situation, receiving thousands in benefits per month. Why is it too much to ask that they pay taxes to help others out too, and maintain the system that has helped them out so much?

In short, those that are “getting by” pay no taxes due to their circumstances, but those that are living like the rest of us should be paying taxes, like the rest of us. By having skin in the game, they may miraculously suddenly have an opinion on the amount of fraud that occurs, or waste in the government, or how that money is spent.

3. Fairness and equality under the law.

It is unfair and unequal for income from the government to aid the needy to not be taxed, but if I give money to the needy directly, it is taxed. In fact, if I give more than the allowable annual gift, I also have to pay the gift tax for the donee, because a gift of that magnitude ($13,000) is considered income [1]. Either way, because there is no deduction for these direct payments, income taxes are paid on this “welfare”, sometimes even twice.

Furthermore, take medical expenses. If I am without insurance and go to the hospital and do not pay, they will (after quite some time) write off the debt. When they do this, I will receive a 1099-C, saying there was a cancelation of debt and this is considered taxable income. Why is it legal to tax me on medical services I could not afford, yet those who cannot afford their own bills are not taxed on those very same services?

Other sources of income that are taxed (to be paid by someone) are: alimony, child support, gifts (like giving a bum some cash or buying a poor neighbor’s kids presents for Christmas), gains from illegal activities, losses on hobbies, any cancellation of debt, Christmas bonuses, gambling winnings, charity raffle winnings, and various others [2]. Why is child support from an estranged father taxable (to the father), alimony is taxable to the spouse who receives it, but support from the state is not taxed? How is this equality under the law?

Now, if Con is going to counter with “Government is a non-profit, and thus an exception is made”. Non-profit charities’ payments to others are not taxed, and neither are any contributions. Let’s explore that.

The following government payments may be taxable: social security, interest from U.S. and municipal bonds, unemployment benefits, jury duty pay, and rewards (e.g. FBI or IRS whistleblower) [2]. These aid programs are taxed, so why not welfare?

Furthermore, while a contribution to a charity is not taxed (but direct giving is…), the following expenses may be considered taxable income to the recipient: scholarships, wages paid (some charities like Goodwill specifically hire “undesirable” people), prizes and “thank-you gifts”, and income from anything given that produces income. But since we are dealing with the government’s welfare payments, this is food for thought.



dylancatlow forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I extend all my arguments.

The following table is the maximum allowable monthly gross income for a household to be eligible for food stamps (and cash benefit) in Minnesota. The phone number to the person I talked to was 952-361-1600 (MN department of human services). I was also informed that a person who has no income and no housing expense will receive $200/month, which is $2400/year, which will leave a negative $3,400 taxable income (assuming welfare was taxed).

Household Size

Max Monthly Gross

Annual Amount

Taxable Income (St. Deduct, S/HOH, MFJ)

Tax Return (for 1 adult w/no withholdings)

Tax Return (for 2 adults w/no withholdings)

1 Adult

2 Adults









































This is assuming two adult homes are married, which they likely are not, because if they are not, then one parent becomes the “head of household” and the other is a single taxpayer. This maximizes the standard deduction, which is higher than if they were claiming “married filing jointly”, and makes tax return info difficult, because it depends on how much the HOH makes for EIC, and the “single” parent needs to have an income for it to matter.

As anyone can see, the taxable income is very small at these thresholds, so any welfare would be taxed AT MOST at 15% federal, and MN state would be 5.95%, assuming they are at these levels, and not making less. Regardless, the increased taxable income would be clearly eaten by net gains from tax credits. If Con can offer statistics for the average welfare (wages and welfare benefits), I can crunch the numbers and we can see the affect.

The bottom line issue is that the downtrodden choose to be on welfare (they have to apply for it), and benefit from it while not contributing to the very system that aides them. If they potentially paid taxes on this income, the rhetoric would be countered, the recipients would not be a total drain on the system, and the legal equality would be salvaged. Otherwise, let’s not tax social security, which was initiated as a welfare program, or unemployment insurance payments, which is definitely an aid program.

I do not mean to be caviler, but these people choose not to work, choose not to work enough (perhaps they would need two jobs to get 40 hours), they choose to keep the kids they cannot afford, they choose the lifestyle they cannot afford, and they choose to accept/demand money from taxpayers to pay for their choices. Taxing these payments will subvert the willingness to abuse welfare, and urge those on welfare to get off and stand on their own because it is no longer a free ride. I admit this seems harsh, but it is not sophism; it is merely a practical solution.



I thank you for your interesting response. I still believe you are incorrect in this matter. If you're suggesting that a single income in a household should taint all of the welfare recipients in said household, then you are missing something obvious. That would make that worker's income actually less than those of the increased incomes of all of the welfare recipients in the house should he quit. This is not how we create a productive society; neither is welfare. But if people are going to need welfare, it shouldn't be taxed. And if it were taxed, what makes you think the amount given would increase to compensate? The only way this concept wouldn't just be fader for confusion is in the situation of a family. A household that has a sufficient income to support everyone yet some members of the household still receive welfare. I don't think this is a case for tax-reform but more a case for the government being more conservative with welfare in general.

Debate Round No. 3


:If you're suggesting that a single income in a household should taint all of the welfare recipients in said household, then you are missing something obvious.

Example: a husband's income, who cares for his stay-at-home wife and three adult children, will be the sole qualifying income of any of the five members of this household. If the husband makes more than the threshold, then NO ONE IN THE HOUSEHOLD is eligible for welfare. This is how welfare works, currently.
Furthermore, if Pro had his way, the welfare would only be taxable to the one who receives it, not to any other member of the household, regardless if they have income or not, thus one could still have zero taxable income.

I must reiterate that HOUSEHOLD income is a factor for welfare, not just the individual's income. So, if I live with my parents, and they buy me food and whatnot, then our combined three incomes are used to qualify. However, if they let me live there, but they do not feed me, then only my income is used to qualify because we are not a household "unit", we just simply live together. So, Con's claim that I am missing something obvious is false, as one income does, in fact, taint all the welfare available to those in his household.

Because expenses are the driving factor, not wealth, a wealthy man, living off his non-interest-bearing savings account, could receive welfare to buy his food. Are we to reward him for refusing to spend his money?

None of my points have been refuted:
1. The effect of taxing welfare is unknown, but we know that at worst, it has minimal effect. However, if the vast majority has no income, then they have a negative taxable income. So part, if not all of the welfare, would be not taxed.

2. Welfare is paid due to choices (i.e. expenses), and if someone wants to retain their wealth or maintain their lifestyle, it is only fair that they potentially pay taxes on this benefit. Similarly, if they choose not to work as much as they could, choose to keep the children they can't afford, choose to drive the car they can't afford, or choose to maintain a residence they can't afford, they should potentially pay taxes on any welfare received.

3. My opponent has refused to comment on why aid to the elderly (social security), divorced (alimony), children (child support), and unemployed (UI payments) are taxed, but aid to the poor is not. This is not equal treatment under the law.

For these reasons, judges must vote Pro. The only counter-argument offered was one of emotion (the plight of the poor), but no evidence was offered to support this claim, only the generalization of the poor and the fallacious conclusions drawn from them.


dylancatlow forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by dylancatlow 5 years ago
I apologize for my forfeited round. I was on vacation and literally had no time to write my response.
Posted by Chaos88 5 years ago
Anyone know why there is such a HUGE gap between text and table? Any solutions for next time?
Posted by elysian85 5 years ago
This topic is... well. Hmm.

I'm skeptical that this debate can go anywhere if my understanding of political science and economics coupled with behavior psychology is as sound as I perceive it to be.

What I'm alluding to is that this may be one of those quite rare "so dull that it's brilliant"-type instances.

We'll just have to see, though, I initially side with Con.

And, for clarity, Marxism is a socialist ideology, as it falls under the defining pillars of socialism (e.g. the identification of unequal economic classes within a society and the resulting utilization of force in the form of central government to redistribute wealth).
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF generally better arguments
Vote Placed by famer 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF and much stronger arguments by PRO.