On June 28th, the Supreme Court upheld most of the provisions of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Here are some of the tax increases that might affect you starting in 2013:
Increased and Expanded Medicare Taxes
High-income taxpayers will be paying higher Medicare taxes. Under the current rules, individuals have Medicare taxes withheld from their salaries at a rate of 1.45% on each dollar earned at work. Since employers match the amount withheld, Medicare receives a total of 2.9% for each payroll dollar paid out. And unlike Social Security taxes which max out at $110,100 (in 2012), there is no cap for Medicare taxes. Self-employed individuals also pay Medicare taxes at a rate of 2.9% on all of their net earnings.
Starting in 2013, the employee portion of the Medicare tax jumps by a whopping 62% – from the current rate of 1.45% to 2.35% – on earned income in excess of $200k for single individuals and $250k for married couples filing a joint tax return. As of now, the employer match is slated to remain at 1.45%, which means the total Medicare tax will be 3.8% for high-income taxpayers.
For example, if you’re single, and earn $500k from your job, expect to pay $2,700 in additional Medicare taxes (($500k – $200k) * .9%) for 2013.
For more information, check out the IRS’s Questions and Answers for the Additional Medicare Tax, which explains: The statute requires an employer to withhold Additional Medicare Tax on wages or compensation it pays to an employee in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year. An employer has this withholding obligation even though an employee may not be liable for the Additional Medicare Tax because, for example, the employee’s wages or other compensation together with that of his or her spouse (when filing a joint return) does not exceed the $250,000 liability threshold. Any withheld Additional Medicare Tax will be credited against the total tax liability shown on the individual’s income tax return (Form 1040).
To increase taxes for high-income individuals even more, the Medicare tax will also apply to unearned income for the first time since this tax was enacted. People over the $200k or $250k threshold should expect to pay Medicare taxes at a rate of 3.8% on interest, dividends, capital gains, and net rental income beginning in 2013. You will pay this tax in addition to any federal and state income taxes due on this income. We’ll provide you a link to this form when it becomes available.
Reduced Tax Breaks for Medical Expenses
Many employers offer their staff the ability to pay for their family’s healthcare costs with pre-tax dollars through a Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) included as part of their benefits package. Starting in 2013, the maximum amount of money that you can set aside in an FSA will be cut in half to $2,500 per year. Plus, medical expenses you can pay through the FSA will exclude certain items currently allowed, including OTC medications. Please note, if you are married, both you and your spouse can put away the full $2,500 through your respective employer’s FSA.
The Patient Protection Act also makes it even tougher for individuals to deduct their medical expenses. Starting in 2013, you can only deduct your family’s medical expenses to the extent the allowable expenses exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. That’s an increase of one-third over today’s threshold of 7.5% of AGI.
This new rule may not impact your taxes, however, thanks to the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Since the current threshold for deducting medical expenses under the AMT is already 10% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), many people who are hit by this tax every year might not see any tax increase due to this change.
Steps to Consider to Minimize These Taxes:
As with most other tax rules, there are ways to minimize the tax bite that will be caused by soon to be implemented changes to the Tax Code:
- Take a look at a Health Savings Account for your family. Money contributed into an HSA is tax-deductible, and money withdrawn for your family’s medical expenses is tax-free. We wrote about HSAs in our MDTAXES’ May 2012 Newsletter.
- Consider selling appreciated investments in 2012 if you would otherwise sell them in 2013. No one know whether the tax rate on long-term capital gains will be higher than 15% in 2013. Add to this the 3.8% Medicare tax you’ll pay once your income exceeds $200k if single or $250k if married, and you could save a decent amount of taxes by selling by December 31st.
- Consider accelerating income into 2012 to reduce your 2013 income. This strategy includes one-time income generators, such as Roth Conversions.