Healthcare Reform Taxes Starting in 2013

I’ll have several upcoming posts on tax changes for 2013 including what’s going to happen if nothing changes, what’s likely to happen (IMHO), and what’s not going to happen.  Here though is a quick list of changes that will take place as part of the new healthcare laws…  I’d label these as almost certainly going to happen, with the only possible exception being if Republicans win majorities in the House and Senate and win the Presidency in November (17% chance of all three happening based on’s betting odds) and pass a repeal of some or part of the Act.  For now, it’s safe to say these are happening:

  • A 0.9% additional tax to employees on wages over $200k per year ($250k if married filing jointly, hereafter abbreviated “MFJ”).  As we understand it, this would be part of employee’s payroll tax, known by many as FICA. This is the 6.2% social security tax that’s capped at $110,100 of income in 2012 and 1.45% Medicare tax that is uncapped.  It’s the Medicare tax that will rise by 0.9% to 2.35% of income and will remain uncapped starting in 2013.  Since this is a payroll tax, it will by withheld from paychecks of employees.  This means that even if you pay the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), you’ll still pay this new tax through payroll.
  • A 3.8% new tax on unearned income by those earning at least $200k per year ($250k MFJ).  If you earn less than $200k or $250k but have unearned income that puts you over those thresholds when added to your earned income, you’d pay the 3.8% tax on the excess over $200k or $250k.  The types of income to which this applies are: interest, dividends, capital gains, annuity income, royalty income and passive rental income.  It does not apply to tax-free interest or retirement plan distributions.  This tax is generally paid at the time of filing or via estimated tax payments through the year.
  • Healthcare flexible spending accounts will be capped at $2500 (reducing the amount of tax that can be saved by deferring income into these accounts).
  • Medical expenses paid out of pocket will only be deductible for those under age 65 if they exceed 10% of income (a hike from the current 7.5% floor).
  • A 2.3% tax on the sale of medical devices (except those commonly sold at retail like glasses, contacts, and hearing aids).

Additional taxes begin in 2014, including the tax penalty to individuals without health insurance (AKA the “Individual Mandate”) and businesses who have at least 50 employees but either don’t offer coverage, or offer sub-par coverage that leads employees to buy insurance on one of the newly created healthcare insurance exchanges (AKA the “Employer Mandate”).  More on these changes in a future post.