Tuesday, December 22, 2009
No new taxes? Yeah, right.
The Senate bill creates a host of new taxes, totaling $370.2 billion in taxes and another $36 billion in taxes from the individual mandate penalty over the next 10 years. The government would start collecting many of these taxes in 2010, even as the economy continues to struggle.
The most significant is a 0.5 percent increase in the payroll tax on earnings above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples filing joint returns. The new tax provisions would also permanently sever the link between the Medicare payroll tax and Medicare benefits because the additional revenue would go to the general fund for health care instead of directly to Medicare payments.
The Senate bill would also impose an excise tax on "high value" health care plans. This tax is expected to be almost $150 billion and is very similar to the tax reported earlier out of the Senate Finance Committee, but it uses a higher threshold level. While the health benefits packages of corporate plans may be rich, it does not follow that the subscribers are wealthy. This tax will disproportionately affect middle-income households.
The Senate bill would also impose a host of new taxes on the health insurance industry, ranging from a tax on branded drugs to a tax on medical devices. These new taxes would increase medical costs and premiums for individuals regardless of income. They would only raise the cost of health care because companies would pass these tax increases on to health care consumers.
The bill has over a dozen new taxes, including:
A 40 percent excise tax on "high value" health care plans of $8,500 or more for an individual and $23,000 or more for a couple ($149.1 billion in new taxes over the next 10 years);
A 0.5 percent hike in the Medicare payroll tax for single earners over $200,000 and joint earners over $250,000 ($53.8 billion);
Changes in health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Spending Accounts, health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements ($5 billion);
A $2,500 cap on FSAs in cafeteria plans ($14.6 billion);
An increase from 10 percent to 20 percent in the penalty for early non-qualified HSA withdrawals ($1.3 billion);
A tax on branded drugs ($22.2 billion);
An annual tax on the health insurers ($60.4 billion);
A tax on companies that manufacture or import medical devices ($19.3 billion);
A 0.5 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery ($5.8 billion over 10 years);
An increase in the floor of the medical expenses deduction from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income to 10 percent, except for seniors, who will stay at 7.5 percent ($15.2 billion);
Elimination of the Medicare Part D (prescription drug) deduction ($5.4 billion);
A $500,000 cap on the tax deduction for the salaries of employees of health insurance companies ($0.6 billion over 10 years); and
A mandate on companies with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay a $750 penalty per employee for those who obtain coverage through the insurance exchange ($36 billion over 10 years) and a mandate on individuals to obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty.