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Friday, June 29, 2012

Obamacare: Seven New Taxes on Citizens Earning Less than $250,000

While we were all debating the cost to our liberty due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), we were ignoring the cost to our pockets. If there ever was a reason for bipartisan rage about this law, it should be on the twenty - yes, twenty - hidden new taxes of this law. Making matters even more relevant is that seven of these taxes are levied on all citizens regardless of income. Hence, Mr. Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 is just another falsehood associated with this legislation.

The first, and best known, of these seven taxes that will hit all Americans as a result of Obamacare is the Individual Mandate Tax (no longer concealed as a penalty). This provision will require a couple to pay the higher of a base tax of $1,360 per year, or 2.5% of adjusted growth income starting with lower base tax and rising to this level by 2016. Individuals will see a base tax of $695 and families a base tax of $2,085 per year by 2016.

Next up is the Medicine Cabinet Tax that took effect in 2011. This tax prohibits reimbursement of expenses for over-the-counter medicine, with the lone exception of insulin, from an employee’s pre-tax dollar funded Health Saving Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). This provision hurts middle class earners particularly hard since they earn enough to actually pay federal taxes, but not enough to make this restriction negligible.

The Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Cap, which will begin in 2013, is perhaps the most hurtful provision to the middle class. This part of the law imposes a cap of $2,500 per year (which is now unlimited) on the amount of pre-tax dollars that could be deposited into these accounts. Why is this particularly hurtful to the middle class? It is because funds in these accounts may be used to pay for special needs education for special needs children in the United States. Tuition rates for this type of special education can easily exceed $14,000 per year and the use of pre-tax dollars has helped many middle income families.

Another direct hit to the middle class is the Medical Itemized Deduction Hurdle which is currently 7.5% of adjusted gross income. This is the hurdle that must be met before medical expenses over that hurdle can be taken as a deduction on federal income taxes. Obamacare raises this hurdle to 10% of adjusted gross income beginning in 2013. Consider the middle class family with $80,000 of adjusted gross income and $8,000 of medical expenses. Currently, that family can get some relief from being able to take a $2,000 deduction (7.5% X $80,000 = $6,000; $8,000 –$6,000 = $2,000). An increase to 10% would eliminate the deduction in this example and if that family was paying a 25% federal tax rate, the real cost of that lost deduction would be $500.

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