◼ ...Under another provision of the health care law, consumers may find it more difficult to obtain a tax break for medical expenses.... - Robert Pear/New York Times
For more than a year, politicians have been fighting over whether to raise taxes on high-income people. They rarely mention that affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law.
The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week.
Affluent people are much more likely than low-income people to have health insurance, and now they will, in effect, help pay for coverage for many lower-income families. Among the most affluent fifth of households, those affected will see tax increases averaging $6,000 next year, economists estimate.
To help finance Medicare, employees and employers each now pay a hospital insurance tax equal to 1.45 percent on all wages. Starting in January, the health care law will require workers to pay an additional tax equal to 0.9 percent of any wages over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.
...Ruth M. Wimer, a tax lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery, said the taxes came with “a shockingly inequitable marriage penalty.” If a single man and a single woman each earn $200,000, she said, neither would owe any additional Medicare payroll tax. But, she said, if they are married, they would owe $1,350. The extra tax is 0.9 percent of their earnings over the $250,000 threshold.
Since the creation of Social Security in the 1930s, payroll taxes have been levied on the wages of each worker as an individual. The new Medicare payroll is different. It will be imposed on the combined earnings of a married couple.