back to article Some engineers are being paid between $250k and $1m, says salary survey

If a new year means a new job, it might be worth taking a peek at the 2022 salary survey, which reveals that principal engineers are getting up to $1 million, and even entry-level engineers can expect more than $250,000 in the highest paying tech firms. Based on more than 150,000 salary submissions, the research …

  1. blackcat Bronze badge

    The light that burns twice as bright..

    "entry-level engineers with up to two years of experience can expect a salary of around $274,000"

    The danger here is you will be the first up against the wall when things go badly. Especially in fintech.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The light that burns twice as bright..

      That's how it is in every workplace...

      1. blackcat Bronze badge

        Re: The light that burns twice as bright..

        It shouldn't be. But goals have become very short term and any hint of even the smallest downturn and some companies start shedding staff. So you end up with an odd mix of fresh hires and those who are good at avoiding the axe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The light that burns twice as bright..

      For full context it's probably worth stressing that while $270k is a lot of money, a big chunk of that (as much as 40%) will be in less-than-liquid stock-based compensation so will have dropped a lot this year. You can shave at least 25% off the headline figures going forward.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Though to be fair

      Not sucking at your job generally helps more than most other factors when the axe starts swinging. Know what your cost of seat is if you want a better yardstick. Also not being a toxic ass. If you give them enough reason to get rid of you, they will probably find one.

      None of this matters much if you report to a complete idiot, so if you are assigned to project deathspiral and your boss reminds you of a character from the office or officespace, try to get on another team.

      1. Skiver

        Re: Though to be fair

        : Not sucking at your job generally helps more than most other factors when the axe starts swinging

        It can. But in big corporate layoffs like this one, it is often where someone is standing when the axe falls, rather than their individual performance.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    And what are the expected working hours? 80+ hours a week?

    Thanks, but I work to live, not live to work.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      If you work at that level, you don't need to spend 80+ hours a week. If someone is pulling all-nighters it means they over promised and now try to not under deliver and are certainly not worth being paid that much.

      Rule of thumb is that the more money you make, the less time you spend working, because you typically know how to do your stuff and it doesn't take you 80 hours, but more like 8 hours to do the same thing.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        It has also been my modus, for a long time, to develop automation to perform every task I can. I work 24x7 365, or so it appears.

        1. bonkers


          You're making it look like you work 24 x 7 x 365 - i.e. 7 years, per year?

          Or is the bad arithmetic so common, it's become like "nucular" - and raises just a wry smile even when used deliberately.

          1. Victor Underbridge

            Re: Irony?

            When werdsmith says he appears to work 24x7 365, that's a colloquialism meaning 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days per year, or in other words, he or his automated surrogates is/are "working" all available hours in a year. To assume he meant that to represent 7 years worth work is incorrect.

            Hours in a year (colloquially 24/7/365):

            Method 1: 24 hr/day * 365 day/year = 8760 hr/year

            Method 2: An equivalent formulation using weeks in a 365 day year would be: 24 hr/day * 7 day/wk * (365/7) wk/year = 8760 hr/year

            For context, some employers I know calculate hourly pay from annual salary using a 2087 hour year, assuming their employees work 40 hours/week (8x5) in a 365.25 day year. So if they quote a salary of $100K/year, they actually pay 100000/2087 = $47.92/hour

            The derivation of the 2087 number is as follows:

            8 hr/day * 5 days/wk * 365.25/7 wk/year = 2087.14...

            If you wanted to compare the hours werdsmith says he appears to "work" in a year, to what at least one employer uses for salary computation purposes, the ratio would be 8760/2087 ~= 4.2

            So, my very pedantic point is you may have misunderstood what he meant by 24x7 365; that's not an equation. He didn't do any bad math. He didn't include ANY math in his post since he didn't actually compute the hours in a year.

          2. rcxb

            Re: Irony?

            Problem is, you added that extra "x" before 365.

      2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        "Rule of thumb is that the more money you make, the less time you spend working."

        Once you cross into management, that completely reverses, or so it appears to me.

        The design engineers I've dealt with (and have been one) -- electrical / mechanical / thermal -- only work their 40 "direct-charge" hours unless overtime is absolutely necessary and management-approved, whereas "indirect" management seems to be on call 24/7/365 and indeed is reading/sending e-mail during the wee hours.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Thank god for labor law

          Which is the main reason those of us at the coal face get paid overtime and hence only do so intermittently. Those they can make exempt that aren't senior managers are made exempt so they can work you more hours than they pay you for. In most cases as many as they can get away with.

          They act like making you exempt is some big win for you as the employee, more likely it's a suckers game till they claw their way up high enough to look busier than they are.

      3. Skiver

        : Rule of thumb is that the more money you make, the less time you spend working, because you typically know how to do your stuff and it doesn't take you 80 hours, but more like 8 hours to do the same thing.

        The real rule of thumb is that top performers are often called upon to take on more responsibilities.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      These companies expect a lot but they're not exactly sweatshops. I've got first-hand experience of one of the top three listed in this article as an employee and it was simultaneously both one of the best paying and most relaxed gigs I've ever done. Massive expectations for delivery but the right culture of managers understanding their role is to get the fuck out of your way and let you do your job.

      People pulling crunch would be flagged at the CEO level as a significant error in planning, and the relevant VP-level person would be expected to produce a plan to prevent it happening again. You don't get to hire or retain what are supposed to be the smartest people on the planet for the long term if you don't have sustainable processes to match. If I'm smart enough to pay three hundred grand I'm smart enough to tell you to shove it if I'm wasting my time.

    3. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Americans put in long hours but aren't exactly stellar performers in terms of productivity, I can tell you that.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    In the UK the salaries could be as big, but thanks to IR35 and brown envelopes, most of the money is slurped by agencies and workers only get scraps.

    You know the mythical £500 per day, where half of it goes to tax man, but agency actually charges £2000 per day and offshores the profits, while you are being called a tax scrounger.

    IT people in the UK have been played.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Middleman

      These are the salaries of employees, not contractors. You lose the obvious things that everyone does, like tax and welfare/health/pension contributions, that's all.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Middleman

        In the UK after IR35 changes 99% of contractors are now (deemed) employees.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Middleman

          No we're not, and I speak for several colleagues.

          Also, earning a fair bit more than the "mythical £500".

          1. redwine

            Re: Middleman

            I would like to go contracting next to have a bit more freedom in my own work however when I check to see what my take home pay might be then it seems low (even when outside IR35) - am I missing something? Perhaps offsetting expenses helps a lot?

            I'd appreciate your input - thanks.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Middleman

      Given what's going on...

      "IT people in the UK have been played."

      ...fixed that for you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Middleman

      My brother in freelancing if you're billing your agency £500pd and your agency is billing the customer £2k per day may I make the humble suggestion you find yourself a new flipping agency. You are being taken for a ride.

  4. pimppetgaeghsr Bronze badge

    Well most of those are at FAANG and Fintech startup companies where your job in 2023 is not exactly safe from the scrutiny of the analysis and application of basic business fundamentals. There are far more jobs well below that compensation and less and less at these levels as the economic headwinds bite.

    By the end of this decade there will be a whole new round of companies paying these levels but I suspect more often than not they won't be at FAANG companies.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet Another BS "survey"...

    I remember these "surveys" back ten / twenty / thirty years ago. And the idiot job candidates who came into job interviews believing we should be paying up to two or three times the actual salary we were offering (very competitive ones at the time) because of what they had seen in the trade publications or on the web regarding "average salaries".

    These "surveys" only sample a small easily accessible part of the business. Public companies usually. Then lump in stock options / etc with the base salary. Which is what you actually get paid. What they never factor in is vesting is not the same as having cash in hand. Or that the tax becomes liable when you buy not sell etc. I turned down one job during the first dot com bubble because in theory the options were worth many millions p.a. If the price kept going up. But the tax liability of the time, several million dollars p.a, was going to have to be paid up front. They do employee options different now because of this huge tax issue. Less concrete tax liability up front. (it was 40% plus at the time) But not that much upside potential to pay future capital gains on either. Compared to the old days.

    These "surveys" often come up with truly fantastical valuations for benefits as well. Plus they never ever factor in your actual tax home pay. Post tax. Those very high salary numbers for NY and CA become rather less impressive once you have paid the state income tax. Compared with TX or WA with no state income tax. Your after tax income in TX and WA is usually higher for equivalent positions despite the most lower base pay. In California unless you make very serious six figures about one third of the income tax you pay is state income tax. And that is double taxed. You pay state income tax on your Fed income tax. Unless it was worth your while ( good six figures income) to do itemized deductions. When you could deduct state income tax payed.

    So yeah, those numbers are total garbage. You can find pure Dot Com scam companies paying stupid salaries like those "survey" numbers to do pointless work which never ships. For the four to five years they have VC money. If that's your thing, being part of a financial engineering fraud, good for you. But it wont look good on your resume after they are gone. But for real tech positions doing real work developing product for paying customers, start dividing those "survey" numbers by two or three to get the real world ballpark salaries.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Yet Another BS "survey"...

      Less concrete tax liability up front. (it was 40% plus at the time)

      Still much better than the UK (54% plus) and still you have to buy private health insurance, because NHS is basically useless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yet Another BS "survey"... 54? how about mid / high 50's?

        If you are self-employed in tech in California the marginal tax rate in the mid range income (local) the Fed + State + SET + Medicare Tax has been in the 52% to 57% range over the years. So at my usual billable rate and with usual living expense its just not worth working more than about 6 months a year. Some years as low as 4. Not when you have an effective 60% rate on every extra $ and then there is another almost 10% plus sales tax on top on almost everything you spend.

        So you trade valuable family time for a very heavily taxed extra income which is earned with the all normal daily costs and frustrations. I'm not paying all that tax for a bunch of layabouts and parasites. Yes, I know both the state and Fed (and City) budgets inside out. I know where the money goes. And to who. Not much high quality (or any quality) services provided or many deserving poor or genuinely helpless out there. Maybe 10% / 15% of expenditure. Max. At least the sales tax only states tend to not waste so much tax payers money. State Income Tax = profligate waste.

        And that is the Laffer Curve in action. Once the marginal rate goes into the 40%'s you start doing the family time v money trade-off. And family time wins. Always.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Yet Another BS "survey"... 54? how about mid / high 50's?

          Those deduction rates seem to be broadly in a line with the UK.

          For many years my effective tax rate (before legal tax efficiency actions) was 61% of the gross amount invoiced. Wouldn't mind so much if the powers that be actually used those monies for the people eg. education, NHS, rather than for backhanders to their mates.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yet Another BS "survey"... 54? how about mid / high 50's?..value for money...

            The split of tax in a state like California would over 50% to the Feds. About 30% for SET/Medicare. Also the Feds. And about 20% to the state.

            Now the Feds have serious waste in the non-discretionary expenditure. But that is no different from other big countries.

            SET is social security tax. You pay both sides. Now I remember the very detailed financial discussions surround the last major reform in Social Security back in 1986. The Baby Boomers made sure it would keep paying out while they were still around but by the time my generation retires. After that, who cares.. Which is when the ponzi scheme that is the Social Security Trust Fund reaches its inevitable end.

            So my generation will never see any meaningful benefit for decades of paying in. Inflation will take care of that. Again a problem in most other countries but given that most current benefits are paid to the demographic with the highest net worth, a really nasty regressive tax. Same goes for the MedicareTax. Pays the vastly inflated costs of retirees medical care. If they moved to a Swiss or even French system, costs would drop about 70% plus. Thats how bad the waste is.

            And then we have state income tax. This is the one that really gets up the noses of anyone who has the slightest idea of where the state spends money. The biggest state spend is in education. Which is terrible. Unusable if you have kids in all big cities and now pretty much the worst in the US. Even Mississippi has given up the fight for that title. And its not for lack of money. Doubled in real terns in the last few decades. But the terminal decline continued.

            The next biggest state spend is paying for the programmes for welfare and health care for the very lowest paid workers in the state. Who disproportionately are from south of the border and work as indoor and outdoor servants / services industry for the Gentry Democrats. Not many work in ag. No wonder the affluent suburban Gentry Democrats keep voting to keep the status quo. Dirt cheap nannies, cleaners and gardeners dont grow on trees you know.

            And what little remains is spent on not maintaining the fantastic state infrastructure that was build out post war. Until the 1970's. And not paying the professional staff who work for the state agencies who look after this infrastructure a decent salary. If the state budget had the same expenditure mix as 1970 (plus regs to match) then it would pretty quickly have a first rate infrastructure again and a suitable paid professional staff working for the agencies. But a lot of very well healed suburban voters would have to start paying the people they employ as "home help" the true cost of their labor. So dont hold your breath.

            So not that different from the UK after all. Except hard information showing how useless the politicians are is much easier to find in the US. The UK is still very much the land of the OSA / DORA. Even when it comes to how much money the local council are wasting on dodgy contracts to cronies.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              CA Schools

              Yeah, they have deep problems, but compared in state to state rankings, California schools are hardly the bottom. We do spend a ton, and our rankings aren't stellar. But despite people who try to frame this backwards, our achievement is middle of the pack because compared to the rest of the world we actually spend less per student. We just have a LOT of students.

              CA is HUGE, in terms of population, land area, AND economic output. But since a huge part of public school funding is based on property taxes, some communities are funded at near private school levels, and others are left to scrape the bottom of the barrel. So we under serve a massive body of students who live in industrial, rural, and inner city areas. In addition, yes total spend has gone up, because hello genius, the student population has increased massively. Since the multi-generational low with GenX in the late 1970s, each generation has expanded massively. So bitter boomers cut school budgets(and whole schools) till the system was at the breaking point. Class sizes exploded, student achievement tanked, and it's not a mystery why. We still spend less per student in inflation adjusted money then we did before GenX. They cut dollars and gave back pennies. So unless you live in a high real estate neighborhood, there isn't enough money to go around. Now there is a push to further gut school funding by allowing the same rich zip codes to further plunder the system under the guise of charter schools and vouchers.

              The last big factor you missed is that a large amount of funding is forced into bond measures, the most expensive form of financing it. Which is stupid, but the state figured out that they can cut the operating budget to the bone, and the parents will always pass a bond measure to cover the loss. That money rarely finds it's way in fair proportion to the schools that need it the most though.

              I agree we need to clean house in public education, but we need to focus on the senior bureaucrats at the state and districts first, and fix the funding problems. (that and break up LAUSD, which it too big to manage, succeed, or ever reform itself.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yet Another BS "survey"... 54? how about mid / high 50's?..down votes?

          I'm interested in these down-votes. Have they ever filled out a CA-540? Have they gone for a wander around the CA consolidated annual budget doc? Or the Fed equivalents. An interesting read.

          Unlike in the UK its pretty easy to get a very detailed breakdown of state expenditure. Down almost to individual salary level for state employees at agencies. And how much they spend on office supplies. If you know where to look. Same goes for the Feds. And the City. But you have to remember their accounting principals are very non-GAAP and somewhat vague in places. Some of that is reasonable. Most isn't. A CFO at a private company signing off on a lot of those budgets would find themselves up in court. And rightly so.

          So yes, state income tax is terrible value for money. The Feds tax is kinda OK. Sorta. Especially when compared to some countries I know and where they spend their money. But I still stop working for the rest of the year when the majority of my extra income is now going in tax. Only a fool keeps working with very high marginal tax rates when they dont absolutely have to.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yet Another BS "survey"... 54? how about mid / high 50's?..down votes?

            Depends on where precisely you are - my local public schools are excellent (almost too academic in fact) so I don't begrudge my California state taxes. I'm not in the higher end of that scale but at nearly 300 probably making double what I'd make in London with a similar overall tax rate. In the late nineties I was making 110k or so as a contractor there pre-IR35, I don't really see any postings at more than 130-140 now, over 20 years later.

            Not very happy with the medical coverage I get for 30k a year for a family of five, but that's life. Social security isn't likely to be great value I grant you, but claiming it's bankrupt and we'll get nothing is a stretch, more likely we'll get 75% of what we'd be entitled to, but I'll take it.

            Cali does need to deal with the housing supply issue, and homeless problem - no shortage of money, seems to be a lot of NIMBY stalling of spending it. There's not another state I'd rather call home, though I am European at heart (despite Brexit) :)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yet Another BS "survey"....Cal stuff..

              In California for the last four plus decades the rule with pubic schools has been - Big City Unified School district = uniformly terrible. Most of the more affluent suburbs - often pretty good. Although I have heard terrible stories from surprising places. Everywhere else - a real crap shoot. Usually not that good.

              The main reason for moving out of the City of SF for people I have known with young families over the decades - move to somewhere with good schools. Usually North Bay or East Bay.

              If you have been broken in by UK level taxes then the very high taxes in CA will not be a shock. But compared with states like Washington, or even California in the 1980's and 1990's, the tax levels are now nasty. Or even the UK in the 1980's for that matter.

              Medical coverage is one of those learning experiences for forigners. Pre Obamacare a mix of self pay plus catastrophic coverage was a great deal. And this is with a family with multiple serious medical conditions. Self pay for normal treatments / tests was a great deal. No insurance companies / liability lawyers involved and a lot of the expense went away. A few $K a year. Since Obamacare, its a total mess. You either pay huge amounts of money or get put on what is basically CA Medicaid. Terrible. Self pay is still the best route for most routine stuff.

              As for Social Security. It's defacto bankrupt. They had to do some hand-waving a few years ago and move some money around to buy a few more years of pretense but the net negative outflows years are pretty much here. The Social Security Trust Fund in its current iteration ran big "surpluses" for many years. Which were used to buy Government debt. The proceeds of which went into general funds. Which were spent. About $2.6 trillions worth. So when you remove the hand waving the whole amount was just added to the US national debt.

              Thats why every single person I have know over the decades who has any degree of financial literacy has put a huge effort in making sure their 401k/IRA/Keogh was as large as possible. Because they knew the Social Security Trust Fund was just a political sleight of hand. A system designed for a 4 year payout period was never going to survive a 16 plus year pay out period. Long term.

              The political calculation back in the 1980's when they had high inflation was inflation would take care of that $2.6 trillion in government debt. By the 2010's / 2020's. Did not work out that way. After following closely what happened in 1986 (and since) I have always assumed that it was not going to be around in any meaningful form when I retired. Just like the Unemployment Insurance weekly payout in California for as long as I can remember. Would not even pay the rent for a SRO in the Tenderloin.

              As for housing etc. Thats a problem created in the 1970's. All self inflicted. Or rather caused low growth measures pushed by recent arrivals. Very long story. Will never be fixed until that political generation die.

              California is like nowhere else in the world. By this stage I'm an honorary local. In NorCal because I have my Loma Prieta stories and complain about all the same things the native locals do. And know its history. Especially the stuff the just passing through folk know nothing about. In SoCal I'm a local for pretty much the same reasons. Like only being able to give directions in LA using the freeway names. Because that's how I learned my way around the Southlands. Many decades ago. And it does not get any better than the Central Coast.

              But in the end my hometown will always be London. Also very much a completely separate universe onto itself. And the one city in the world that will shut up a New Yorker going on about New York being the greatest city in the world. Nope. Not even close.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Yet Another BS "survey"...

        Private health insurance in the UK is way cheaper than the US though.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Yet Another BS "survey"...

          Mainly because it's massively subsidised by the NHS. For example, there are no private A&E departments and also if the private hospital can't handle something then they call an ambulance...

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Yet Another BS "survey"...

      Another thing that comes to mind is you're going to have to pay a higher salary if you're in a place where the cost of things (like somewhere to live) can wipe out a salary that would be acceptable elsewhere.

      It's been a while since I lived in the UK, but back when I did there was something called "London weighting" which added a percentage depending on how close to London your job was. This would cover living closer to the capital, or spending too many hours of your life dealing with the M4.

    3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Yet Another BS "survey"...

      My takeaway from the article is that the typical engineer will start in or around the average industrial wage and rises from there.

      It's not explicitly mentioned there, I simply extrapolated backwards from those deemed to be in demand who get the surgeon-type salaries.

  6. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Follow the Money

    Reminds me of the IEE (now IET) wage survey which they used to do in the 80s and 90s. Every year it came out, replete with data, graphs and summaries, and every year it bore no resemblance to the wages any of us were earning - and we were doing OK. The bosses hated it. The main thrust of the survey was that IEE members earned more than non-IEE members, which was odd because when the Thursday Telegraph came out with all the job ads, none of them specified higher wages for IEE members, nor even required membership.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Follow the Money base their entire business around this, so they do put in some effort to make sure the figures are correct. Specifically they will verify any survey data with a sampling of real payslips, contracts and so on that they gather from participants. I can tell you for my own part that the numbers listed for my current employer are accurate. Employers use levels to ensure their rates are competitive as much as employees use the data to make sure their offers are fair. It's never *that* far out.

  7. jzl

    That's me

    I'm easily being paid that much. Oh, wait. No I'm not.

  8. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Salary survey

    Who is being surveyed? And what are their agendas?

    Employees want to inflate the market average so they can go back to the boss and ask for more. Management in a hiring mode want their company to look like a better place to work so the "pays up to $X" will attract more applicants.

    Might as well be asking about people's sex lives. (Need that Paris Hilton icon here)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stock bubble

    It's total compensation so that would include stock that peaked to bubble levels during 2022. For a moment, I was making nearly $1 million a year on paper. That soon dropped to a very real zero.

  10. Roland6 Silver badge

    principal engineers are getting up to $1 million

    Clearly, people with engineering degrees like Tim Cook, don't bother to participate in these survey's...

  11. Lorribot

    "entry-level engineers with up to two years of experience"

    Could some explain what these mythical engineers are engineering?

    No where in this piece does it say. Are they software/hardware/Data/application/OS or some other type of engineer that thinks a slide rule is for measuring slides?

    This is just a clickbait story with big numbers and no real context or content.

  12. Marty McFly Silver badge

    From the title "if you can afford to live there"

    Location is really the issue. These big salary numbers are really what is required to live in these geographic areas when high taxes and the cost of living are factored in. A quick Internet search show the average SFO apartment rent is ~$3400/mo for 740sqft. Want a parking space with that, add another 10%.

    I personally have for rent a 1300sqft property in a gated community on an island (via a bridge) with decent Internet service and access to miles of private beaches & trails for a little over $2000/mo. Includes a 3-car garage to save on that parking expense too. It would be an ideal work-from-home for someone who only needs to show up at the office once or twice a month (~2hr commute to a major metro area). It costs far less to live there, thus requiring far less gross income to maintain the same discretionary income.

    It is only a matter of time before these companies figure out they can hire 2-3x remote headcount for the cost of a single on-site employee in a major metro area. Especially when the cost of maintaining a physical building is factored in.

  13. Robert Grant Silver badge

    This article talks about salaries, but is talking total compensation. Not the same.

  14. jgard

    Too Much Moaning

    There's a lot of grumbling from the higher earners in these comments, most of which I find hard to sympathise with. If you don't like paying high taxes on your enormous salary, either move job to something lower paying, or move home to a lower tax country.

    I happen to be one of these tech people enjoying a great salary, and I remind myself every day how bloody lucky I am, and how grateful I should be. Yes I've worked and studied damn hard for over two decades, I've pushed myself to take jobs that really stretch me. But I'm also extremely fortunate to have done so in such a lucrative and rewarding industry that pays fantastically. And lucky that I have reached this level just as the financial rewards are becoming the best they've ever been. I often see my pay and think I can't be worth that, it's too much, honestly. And I think that's a MUCH better way to think than: I want more more more, its way too much tax....

    Of course, I don't like paying taxes, especially when they seem excessive. However I can afford to pay them and still take home enough money to give me freedom to do what I want, go where I want / take my family where they want, all while never having to worry about groceries/bills/cost of living crises. That makes me incredibly fortunate, and I take that to heart - I'm very lucky.

    Unless they are stupid, anyone paying these large tax bills is doing very nicely too. And like most of them, I don't like too see that cash go to the taxman. However, for me, it's nice to think that it's enough to fund a few NHS nurses. That makes me feel that I'm helping in some way.


    If you are paying exorbitant tax, you are earning A LOT, you're very very fortunate, you have few of the worries of most people. Count your blessings and maybe give the grumbling a rest eh? It just feels a bit unseemly and demonstrates a pretty big deficit in the self awareness department.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too Much Moaning

      Yeah, anybody hitting 60% in CA isn't working the deductions at all, and if the progressive tax means you hit a point of diminishing returns when your making north of 300k a year it's doing it's job. Stay home and enjoy life a little, or hit the charity circuit and push that bar up a bit.

      Or go full Mammon worshiping grindset if that's your thing, but don't expect much sympathy if you whine the weights are too heavy when you flex having 3x the industry baseline and 5x the state average.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too Much Moaning..deductions??

        Deductions? With W2 income? Really?

        Plus that was marginal rate, not effective rate. So I'd guess you have no real grasp of taxation or basic accounting.

        Now 1099 income gives you some leeway. But not much. Unless you want a very high probability of one of those fun IRS audits. Same goes for people playing silly buggers with 1040 Schedule A / C with W2 only income. Audits are very expense. In time, money and peace of mind. Plus its like playing Russian roulette. With only one chamber empty. Unless you have a very good grounding in accounting. Which gives you slightly better odds.

        I have always been ultra conservative. Always left something on the table. In case of audit. And made sure to never ever do anything that thew a red flag. Again, knowing how accounting and taxation works makes this pretty straight forward. Dont do anything to draw attention to yourself. And lots of aggressive deductions on a W2 1040 is like screaming - Audit Me, Audit Me..

        If you start making serious money (i.e senior management) then its time to get a tax lawyer. But that is way beyond the W2 land of this article

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too Much Moaning..reading comprehension?

      So never paid California or US tax then I'd guess. If you read carefully the problem is less the tax paid, its what its spent on. And how much value for money the payer, and others gets for their tax money.

      Do you pay lots of tax for an education system that is so bad (confirmed in all third party surveys) that you have to pay for very expensive private education for your kids. I'd be happy if the local public school system was high quality. For everyone's sake. But it is not. And can never be in its current form.

      Do you pay lots of tax to pay the health care costs of others. And current retirement payments. Where most of the benefits dont go to the poorest cohort but the richest cohort? Not the other way around as it should be. And for a system that will not be around by the time you qualify.

      Its just terrible value for money. At least the State and SET part is. The Fed end is a wash.

      Not that much money actually goes to the sick, the needy and those who need a helping hand. Or on providing even a basic quality of services. Welfare programmes were at most 15% of cash actually reaches the people who need it. The rest is "administration costs". And so on. In the US these numbers are readily available. Unlike the UK. Where you have to pries it out with a FOI.

      Thats were the problem is.

      Anyway if you read carefully what I wrote you might have picked up that I dont actually pay exorbitant tax (or at least have not for many years) because I did the numbers very early on and after one or two years of almost six figure tax bills I completely changed my work habits and which project I took on. Just a few short projects a year gave me and my family a great standard of living. And then stop for the rest of the tax year once the marginal tax on subsequent hours meant I was mostly working to pay tax. So no more long projects. And often turned down projects if already earned enough for the year.

      The big upside is that I spent a lot more time with my family. So it was a great trade. Nothing unique about not working more just to pay tax. It happens in all high marginal tax countries. People turning down promotions or overtime. Because the much higher tax does not make it worth their while.

      When I lived for a while in a state with a much lower effective marginal tax rate and much better value for money for tax paid I actually worked far more days per year. I would take on longer projects and more projects per year. Because the very high marginal rate / terrible value for tax paid was less in your face. On a daily basis. And I really enjoy what I work on.

      I would guess you are one of those Mustn't Grumble Brits. Well they do things different in the US. For a start people tend to much more aware of where and what their taxes are being spent on. The 1040, even the EZ will make it very obvious. None of that PAYE soma. Even for the W2's. Plus everyone who votes gets asked on a regular basis how their taxes are spent. When was the last time you voted on a school bond. Or a city workers retirement benefits package. Or a state roads upgrade and repair bond. Never? You seem to share the average Brits profoundly oblivious attitude to how much tax they pay and where and how it is spent.

      I much prefer the American way. Always arguing. Always complaining. Always trying to make things better. The last one is the key bit. Now the Brits, they just moan a lot but nothing ever changes.

      1. jgard

        Re: Too Much Moaning..reading comprehension?

        Wow.... touched a nerve did I? Sorry dude, but I didn't realise you were so sensitive. I wasn’t actually talking to you personally, though I understand that’s how you took my comments. Needless to say, I apologise if I caused you any offence.

        However, I’m surprised that things turned so juvenile so quickly. What’s behind your need to turn friendly banter into a battle between the political ideologies of UK vs US? I don’t get it mate, and while I have neither the time, nor inclination to reply to most of what you say, I’ll deal with the bits that seem silliest to me.

        You say: “I would guess you are one of those Mustn't Grumble Brits.” I say: “No, if you heard how vociferously I complain about our British political ‘leaders’, you would realise how dumb that is”. Also, what’s a 'Mustn’t Grumble Brit’? I’ve never met one, despite living here most of my life.

        You also say: “Well they do things different in the US. For a start people tend to much more aware of where and what their taxes are being spent on.” Do they, are you sure, and why does that matter anyway? Get a grip. That said, I don’t know if you have spent much time in the UK, but over the years, I have worked and lived in the US for a very considerable amount of time. Your assertion in no way matches my experience in the US - US folk certainly do not have any better idea of where their taxes go. Really, that’s nonsense, it’s just not true.

        You also said: “You seem to share the average Brits profoundly oblivious attitude to how much tax they pay and where and how it is spent.” So where is your evidence for that? What profoundly oblivious attitude? And how on Earth does that matter in relation to my comment? Also, do you not realise that by mentioning my PAYE tax could pay for several NHS nurses, I know how my taxes are being spent?

        Your invocation of a battle between UK and US ideologies is still leaving me baffled; why do you do it, and what’s the point? But here’s your last quote: “I much prefer the American way. Always arguing. Always complaining. Always trying to make things better. The last one is the key bit. Now the Brits, they just moan a lot but nothing ever changes.”

        The best bit is here: “Always trying to make things better. The last one is the key bit”. Is this true of the US, really? As you are (I assume) a US citizen, and one who knows how his tax $$$ are spent, you will surely be aware of the following fact: up until 2014, health care spending of the US govt, as percentage of GDP was an enormous 17.1%. Yes, 17.1%! The same stat in the UK in that time was 8.8% of GDP. So the US spent (and therefore wasted $ billions) over twice as much per capita as a share of GDP.

        Many, many people in the US have been complaining, arguing, trying to make things better in the healthcare space, but virtually NOTHING has changed, and the stats are just as bad now: the US spends much more on healthcare than any other developed nation, even though it doesn’t have socialised, single-payer medicine. Ouch! Look at the other major political issues in the US. Take gun control as just one example, could you describe it better than this: “they just moan a lot but nothing ever changes”. What has changed, in this regard, for the better in the last few decades in your ever-improving version of the USA?

        I don’t mean to criticise the US, or anyone in the US at all, and I'm not. I have lots of friends there. However, I have been forced into this style of reply. It’s necessary that I leverage these points in order to show that your US vs UK argument is irrelevant, petty, juvenile and counter-productive. People who can’t argue for themselves often resort to arguing on behalf of their country folk instead. It’s sad, it’s silly, but it’s true.

        1. blackcat Bronze badge

          Re: Too Much Moaning..reading comprehension?

          Every time they try to change the US healthcare system they end up making the drug companies, insurance companies, middlemen and hospital owners richer and the service worse.

          At least in the UK I don't have to leave my car boot open so that it doesn't get broken into on a daily basis. Remember when London Breed said she was going to get tough on crime and did nothing? You can't vote in someone else as cities like SF are single party run. When politics is for profit there is no incentive to fix anything.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Too Much Moaning..reading comprehension?

            Lets see.

            "Health Care Reform". Unless you understand Organized Labors part in creating the current situation regarding how health insurance is tied to employment (in WW2) and how protecting that status quo is at the bottom of why all reform has failed since the 1950's well everything else is just noise. Its a very interesting story. And one that is almost never covered in the media. It had a small walk on part in 1993 but was quickly shuffled off the stage.

            You must have a very nice car or else live in a very dodgy neighborhood. Crime is way up since Prop 47/57 but still nowhere near the Mad Max years of the early /mid 1990's in SF. And the new City DA is actually filing charges. Unlike the last one. I've always owned old beat up BMW's / Subaru's , never washed, with lots of junk plainly visible inside. Even parking by some of the more interesting projects was never a problem Trunk locked. Never broken into. And up in Marin or down in San Mateo County if you forget to lock your car never a problem.

            Yeah, SF has been single party since the 1970's. But changes are afoot as the recent recalls show. Dont be too surprised if City Hall politics is very different in a decades time. More like the 1950's. But as its SF, dont get your hopes up too high. The Cityhas a long tradition of municipal mismanagement. Until people get so sick of it then its Throw the Bums Out. Has happened twice before. Will happen again. As regular as earthquakes.

        2. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: Too Much Moaning..reading comprehension?

          > and while I have neither the time, nor inclination to reply to most of what you say

          The correlation between people who have time to tell their interlocuter that they're not worth their time, and people who write walls of text, is once again reinforced.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too Much Moaning..reading comprehension?...another clueless Brit?

          You know those Yanks who wander around the UK making one clueless comment after another about the UK and how it works - pretty much a stock character in the UK for over 100 years, Punch from the 1920's onwards is full of cartoons on the subject - well Brits who pontificate about the US and how it works are even more clueless.

          The big difference is the average American will usually acknowledge (after some prodding sometimes) that there is so much about Britain they dont understand (and never will) but I have yet to meet a Brit either in the UK or even in the US for whom it has ever crossed their mind that they really dont have a clue about the US and how it works. Maybe after a few decades Brits who move to the US and integrate (no expat evenings at the local British pub etc) unlearn so many of the prejudices and delusions of superiority they acquired back home. But the simple fact is the US is as different from the UK as Switzerland. It just happens to speak the same language. Mostly. Just because you grew up immersed in US films and TV (or visited Florida) means zilch when it comes to having any understanding of the country. Nada.

          So me, I know the rules of Mornington Crescent and also why the Separation of Church and State is fundamentally different from Laïcité. I know the world you live in so well that all I hear in your post is the typical clueless bleating I have heard so many times over the decades from Brits. Some Brits get it. That the US is not what they see on the telly. But most still dont. Oddly enough the average French person (despite the British stereotypes) is far more open on this subject that most Brits are.

          The British part of me says - just another bloody cockwomble. The American part of me says - I know why the US is such a great country and why its people make such fantastic friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc so who cares what some stroppy guy on some small island in Europe somewhere thinks.

          So to quote those great patriots Team America - America F*ck Yeah..

          Have a Nice Day..

          (which in most contexts in the US actually means F*ck Off and Die. Ah, those Yanks. They dont understand sarcasm and irony. Like us sophisticated Brits do...)

          As for the original subject.

          I have a great life doing very interesting work and stop working when my marginal tax rate gets too high and then spend more time with my family, because I have the choice.

          Seems like some people around here are either seething with begrudgery or else take offense at how dare I not work 2080 hours a year to pay large amounts of tax to finance their pet social programmes. Funny how none of these people ever seem to volunteer to pay extra tax (which they can - although the tax people will be very non-plussed at first). Or put in the very hard work over years to acquire the skills that will put them in the high earnings brackets where they would end up with very high marginal tax rates. Nothing stopping them paying the up to 63% UK marginal tax rate.

          Its a funny old world.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right now I’m making way more than I ever thought possible, but still nowhere near some of the listed numbers. They sound ridiculous to me.

  16. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge


    What good is a $250K a year salary when a simple 4-bedroom house costs $2 million? Areas like the Bay Area and Seattle are notoriously expensive and it's therefore a no-brainer that many remote workers are re-locating to cheaper area's to at least to be able to afford a nice car.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like