The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

The five tax hikes in Obamacare that most hurt seniors

Photo of Grover Norquist
Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

The jobs-killing Obamacare law contains 20 new or higher taxes on American families and employers. Many of these tax increases fall on families making less than $250,000 — a direct violation of candidate Obama’s promise not to raise “any form” of taxes on these families. In less than a week, the second anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law will take place. The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare next week.

Out of the 20 new or higher taxes in Obamacare, there are five that fall most directly on seniors.

The first is the excise tax penalty for failure to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate. Many seniors face a coverage gap between retirement and Medicare eligibility. Obamacare raises taxes on these younger seniors by punishing them if they don’t purchase “qualifying health insurance.” Set to go into effect in 2014, the excise tax penalty for mandate non-compliance will in 2016 rise to 2.5% of adjusted gross income for a senior couple (or $1,390 for those making less than $55,600).

Why does Obamacare raise taxes on seniors just as they are entering retirement? Many of these seniors will face this “stick” but find themselves with too much income to qualify for the “carrot” of tax credits to purchase Obamacare health insurance plans in an exchange. Many will be forced to keep working just to avoid paying this tax.

The second tax hike on seniors is the so-called “Cadillac Plan” excise tax. Starting in 2018, Obamacare imposes a whopping 40% excise tax on high-cost (“Cadillac plan”) health insurance plans. This is defined for seniors as a plan whose premiums exceed $29,450 for a family plan, or $11,500 for a single senior. Seniors often face higher costs in health insurance premiums due to chronic health conditions and other risk factors. This tax will fall almost exclusively on the seniors with the greatest health insurance needs.

Third is Obamacare’s dividends tax hike. Starting in 2013, the top tax rate on dividends is scheduled to rise from 15% today to 39.6%. In addition, Obamacare imposes a dividend “surtax” of 3.8% on families making more than $250,000 per year. That would create a top dividend tax rate of 43.4%, nearly triple today’s rate. This will fall very hard on seniors. According to the Tax Foundation’s analysis of IRS data, 70% of households over age 55 receive dividend income. Seventy-one percent of all dividends paid flow to these households. To raise taxes on dividends is to raise taxes on seniors.

Then there’s the medical device excise tax. Obamacare imposes a new excise tax on medical device manufacturers in 2013. These companies will surely build the cost of this new tax into the price of what they sell. Who buys medical devices? Who buys pacemakers, wheelchairs and other costly medical devices? Seniors do.

Finally, Obamacare reduces allowable medical itemized deductions. Under current law, medical itemized deductions can be claimed on tax returns, but they must be reduced by 7.5% of adjusted gross income. Obamacare increases this “haircut” to 10% of AGI in 2013. This will mean that millions of Americans claiming medical itemized deductions will no longer be able to. The same IRS data as above tells us that 60% of all tax filers claiming this deduction are over age 55.

All of the tax increases in Obamacare will hurt seniors, but these five fall on them directly and hardest.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform and co-author (with John Lott) of Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future.