op-ed

ObamaCare’s mounting tax burden punishes families, small business

Grover Norquist President, Americans for Tax Reform

This Thursday will mark the beginning of a series of tax increases on the American people in order to pay for Obamacare. Over the next several years, about twenty new or higher taxes will go into effect. Many of these tax increases are well-known. There are the “individual mandate” and “employer mandate” excise taxes. There is the infamous “Cadillac plan” tax. There’s a new surtax on capital gains and dividends. There’s new taxes on health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). The list goes on.

One tax that hits Thursday tax has become emblematic of the rest: a new, 10 percent excise tax on tanning salon sessions. You heard that correctly—tanning salon sessions. Across America, the 30 million people who visit a tanning salon each year are about to get whacked. The tax is small in terms of government revenue—less than $3 billion over a decade—but the cost and compliance burden for small businesses, employees, and customers alike is anything but a rounding error.

Another interesting aspect of this first in a series of Obamacare taxes is the fact that it violates President Obama’s “firm pledge” he has made again and again to never raise “any form of taxes” on any family making less than $250,000 per year. It’s a safe bet that many, if not most, of the patrons of tanning salons make less than this amount. Thus, this tax increase is a clear violation of that promise he made again and again. My organization, Americans for Tax Reform, has kept a detailed record of this promise which is available on our website.

So what are the less-than-$250,000 tanners to do on July 1? If they go for a tan that day, shouldn’t they be able to exempt themselves from this new tax? ATR has created a card that would allow him to do just that, if President Obama were a man of his word.

The “Obama Tax Hike Exemption Card” debuts today. The front side of the card shows Obama’s oft-repeated campaign promise. The back of the card lists all the tax hikes Obama has enacted or proposed on families making less than $250,000 per year. They include a hike in cigarette taxes (about the only smoker in America who makes more than $250,000 is named Barack Obama), the individual health insurance mandate tax, the tanning tax, new taxes on HSAs and FSAs, a tax on prosthetics and other medical devices, a tax on tuition at special needs schools, and making it harder to deduct medical expenses on your tax return. Taxes which the Obama administration has floated but not yet been able to shove down the throats of an unwilling populace include a value-added tax (VAT), a new energy tax known as “cap and trade,” and a paternalistic tax on soda.

Each and every one of these tax increases would fall squarely on families making less than $250,000 per year. Each and every one of them is a clear, direct, and unambiguous violation of President Obama’s tax promise—a pledge which White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said had “no caveats.” Well, it certainly appears that there are many, many caveats to that pledge—assuming that anyone from the president on down is serious about it at all.

ATR is making these cards available to the public. We’re giving them to Congressional offices, and taxpayers can get one for themselves at www.atr.org. The next time you walk into a tanning salon and get hit with a 10 percent federal tax, or get your HSA turned down for an aspirin purchase, you can simply present this card at the register. With all humility and sincerity, ask the cashier, “but, wait—I make less than $250,000 per year. Are you calling my president a liar?”

If President Obama wants to uphold his tax promise to the American people, he should repeal each and every one of these tax increases which have been signed into law, and swear off a VAT, cap and trade, and a soda tax. Otherwise, the “Obama Tax Hike Exemption Card” may give new meaning to “don’t leave home without it.”

Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform