Supreme Court Ruling Will Affect Taxes

How will the healthcare ruling by the Supreme Court affect taxes?

The individual mandate is not the only thing about the Affordable Care Act. There are tax changes to consider. Because of the three day hearing about the ACA, here at TaxVox, I believe it is time to ponder some of the revenue provisions.

Provisions in the law allow for tax cuts as well as increases. Unless the whole thing is thrown out, these tax changes would likely remain.

If it can be considered a tax at all, the only one would be the mandate penalty for not purchasing insurance. The Supreme Court will have to decide if this is a penalty or a tax.

Included in the ACA are some very important tax cuts; credits for helping small businesses that purchase insurance for their workers. You may not realize that they are there, as over $1 million has been paid by the NFIB to challenge the ACA.

The NFIB will more than likely think that those subsidies should be thrown out if the Supreme Court rejects any of the key parts of the reform.

There are some tax increases in the new law, including an excise tax for high value health plans that are sponsored by the employer. That would begin in 2018 and make it harder to take itemized deductions on their medical costs.

There are a couple of other tax increases of note. The first tax increase of the bill is a .9% increase for higher income workers in the medicare wage tax. This is for supporting the health system for seniors. The second increase, sometimes referred to as a Medicare surtax, is a 3.8% high income tax on households that enjoy income from investments and non-wage sources.

These new taxes, according to a Tax Policy Center study, would increase taxes on those households earning between $500,000 – $1,000,000 by about $4,600 and those earning $1 million+ by $41,000. Those making $250,000+ ($125,000 single) will also be affected.

It would not be wise, then, to forget these tax changes. We may not have seen the end of the tax code modifications.

Effective Tax Rate: Not As Simple As It Seems

Mitt Romney recently expressed the belief that his effective tax rate is roughly 15 percent. Most people become incredulous upon hearing this claim.

Their initial thought is that most people pay a much higher rate than that.

The reality is that they really don’t, however.

In fact, based on the specific calculation methodology, Mr. Romney’s effective rate is significantly higher than that of most Americans’.

Comprehending why this is true requires understanding that “effective tax rate” does not equate to your maximum income tax bracket. Those rates range between 10 and 35 percent, depending upon gross annual income.

This figure can be calculated in various ways, however, as no single means of defining tax liability exists. For instance, one might consider only federal income taxes or all federal taxes. Income may likewise be measured in more ways than one. It may be expressed in terms of “gross,” “taxable,” or “adjusted gross.”

In truth, it is impossible to arbitrarily ascertain  Romney’s true effective tax rate to any degree of certainty. That can only be accomplished with a detailed review of his reported income and deductions as reflected within his tax returns.

Even if Romney is right, however, a very simple explanation exists for why his effective rate is most likely much higher than most others’:  Effective tax rate is invariably lower than maximum income tax bracket. Moreover, about 80 percent of US taxpayers’ maximum top rate is 15%. This figure is according to Tax Policy Center Senior Fellow Roberton Williams.

Per Williams, four-fifths of all Americans’ effective tax rate is already less than 15 percent.

When income tax liability is considered by itself, taxpayers whose gross annual income is between $40k and $50k per year is only 3.2 percent, per estimates of the Tax Policy Center.

Even households with gross annual incomes that exceed $1,000,000 can expect to pay only 18.9 percent of this amount in 2012 taxes.

This is due to the fact that many high-income households earn much of their money via tax-advantaged investment vehicles like bonds or other sheletered capital gains.