From Means Testing to Means Taxing

3 min readJan 18, 2024


Means testing creates a poverty trap and kills good programs. Means taxing is the alternative.

The left wants a stronger social safety net, the center- and right-wing folks want entitlements to be more affordable and less bureaucratic. Means taxing replacing means testing is a solution. Means testing’s bureaucracy is expensive, hinders access, and creates poverty traps. Means taxing however requires no additional bureaucracy, expands access to programs, and eliminates the poverty trap.


In the realm of social welfare policy, a radical rethink is overdue. This blog advocates for the replacement of means testing with means taxing — a transformative approach to fostering inclusivity while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

Means Testing is a Policy Failure

Means testing, with its bureaucratic complexities, creates barriers to entry for those in need. It often leads to exclusion, leaving deserving individuals without crucial support. The labyrinth of eligibility criteria impedes access and perpetuates inequality.

Means Taxing is a Working Alternative

Means taxing, on the other hand, revolutionizes the system by providing unlimited access to social welfare programs. The crux lies in implementing taxes that balance this generosity, particularly for the middle and upper classes. This approach aligns with the principles of fairness and universal access.

Radical Inclusivity

Means taxing dismantles the walls that means testing erects. Everyone gains unrestricted entry to essential government programs, fostering a more inclusive society. This shift embodies a commitment to ensuring that those in need receive the support they require.

Taxing Means, Not Testing Them

To maintain fiscal equilibrium, means taxing introduces progressive taxes to offset universal programs. This ensures that those who can afford to contribute more do so, offsetting the expanded benefits provided to all. It’s a balanced approach that upholds the ethos of shared responsibility.

Reason #1: Simplicity and Efficiency

Means taxing streamlines the bureaucratic machinery, replacing it with a simpler and more efficient system. This reduction in administrative complexities not only saves resources but also enhances the overall effectiveness of social welfare programs.

Reason #2: Public Perception and Acceptance

The simplicity of means taxing resonates with the public, fostering acceptance and understanding. Unlike means testing, which often faces skepticism and resistance, means taxing garners support as it aligns with the values of equal opportunity and shared burden.

Reason #3: Eliminating Poverty Traps

Means taxing becomes a potent tool in addressing the poverty trap. The paradigm of means testing all government programs creates an unavoidable poverty trap. People lose their support when they are right on the edge of achieving economic stability. Means taxing, however, makes programs universally available, and then pays for these programs by taxing the societal upsides of people exiting poverty, namely higher employment, economic development, and greater wealth creation by the middle class and the wealthy.

Reason #4: Preempting Abuse and Fraud

Means testing is often vulnerable to abuse and fraud due to its intricate nature. The “Welfare Queen” myth is only possible because means testing can be abused. Means taxing, on the other hand, with its straightforward structure, is difficult to defraud and manipulate. This ensures that resources are directed to those who genuinely need assistance.

Smooth Transition, Easy Implementation

A transition from means testing to means taxing can be done smoothy in a phase based process. In a planning phase governments can assess what the estimated effects of removing means testing would be and assess the corresponding requisite means testing. Then in an execution phase, the government can add the corresponding means tax and remove the means testing.


In conclusion, means taxing emerges as a solution to transform our social welfare landscape. By discarding the bureaucratic shackles of means testing and embracing a system that provides equal access to all, we can build a society that truly cares for its citizens. It’s time to embark on this journey towards inclusivity, fiscal responsibility, and a brighter future for all. #MeansTaxing #InclusiveSociety




Educator, Founder, Engineer. Interested in Evidence Based Education and Solving BIG Problems.