The most memorable line from Tuesday’s debate was certainly Mitt Romney’s “binder full of women” phrase. It’s been the stuff of Tumblr pages and Facebook shares ever since, and the country has had a welcome non-political laugh over it — for the most part. Angry Democratic partisans have tried to seize on this light moment to make a “serious” point about how Romney is anti-woman. That’s kind of ironic, considering that the Obama-Biden campaign’s tax platform disproportionately burdens women.
The following are the major tax increases on women in President Obama’s checkered first term, his budget, and in his campaign platform.
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Healthcare Tax Hikes on Women
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make approximately 80 percent of healthcare decisions for families. The Obamacare law contains 20 new or higher taxes. Many of these taxes fall on basic healthcare decisions. Thus, the Obamacare tax hikes on healthcare will disproportionately burden women.
The worst Obamacare health tax, of course, is the tax penalty for not complying with the law’s individual mandate to purchase “qualifying” (as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services) health insurance. This tax will equal 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income for most affected families. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 6 million tax penalty payers will be middle- or lower-income individuals — individuals who are statistically more likely to come from female-headed households than from male-headed households.
Note that this tax is not to be confused with the tax penalty for failing to comply with Obamacare’s employer mandate tax of at least $2,000 per employee — a tax which will fall heavily on women small business owners.
Then there’s the “medicine cabinet tax.” Since 2011, women have not been able to use flex accounts at work or health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines at the pharmacy. Everything from children’s cold medicine and chewable vitamins to pain relievers and flu treatments have cost more ever since.
Speaking of flex accounts or “FSAs,” Obamacare imposes a new $2,500 cap on the amount that can be deposited into these accounts (there was no IRS limit before). With the cost of children’s braces averaging $5,000, a single mother looking to sock away extra money to pay for them would find herself quickly hitting this new cap.
This tax increase will fall particularly hard on moms of special needs kids. The special tuition and durable medical equipment purchases that having a special needs child often requires can be purchased using tax-deductible FSAs. But with a low cap of $2,500, many parents of special needs children will find themselves paying for these expenses for the first time with after-tax dollars, burdening families our government should be trying to help.
The list goes on. In 2013 a new Obamacare tax on medical device manufacturers kicks in, raising the price of everything from braces for children to walkers for aged parents. There are taxes on health insurance premiums, prescription medicines, and even charitable hospitals. There are new limits on how much those with high medical expenses can deduct on their income tax forms. All these tax increases will fall squarely on consumers of medical care, America’s wives and mothers.
Tax Hikes on Women Small Business Owners
The most obvious tax attack on women is President Obama’s plans to raise the tax rates at which a majority of small business profits face taxation. Since small businesses pay taxes using the individual rates, raising these rates is a hike in the small business tax rate, too. The Obama plan to raise the top two rates from 33 and 35 percent today to 36 and 39.6 percent (respectively) next year will fall on the majority of small employer profits, according to IRS data. A study by Ernst and Young argues that allowing this small business tax hike to go through would kill over 700,000 jobs.
According to the Census Bureau, 10.2 million women own their own small businesses (or own them with their husbands). They employ 15.7 million Americans and generate a staggering $2.5 trillion in business receipts. President Obama cannot raise tax rates on “the rich” without also raising the small business tax rate paid by these female entrepreneurs.
Finally, the Obama administration’s most infamous tax hike on small-business-owning women is the 10 percent “tanning tax” found in Obamacare. According to industry estimates from the Indoor Tanning Association, 75 percent of professional tanning businesses are owned by women. Seven out of 10 tanning salon customers are women. For any business owner, a 10 percent excise tax is enough of a burden, but this tax has also proven to be a regulatory nightmare. According to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report, the Obama IRS didn’t bother to issue compliance guidelines until three quarterly filing deadlines had passed: “By the time [IRS] notices were issued, tanning excise tax returns had been due for three quarters.”
While Obama and Biden are off making jokes about binders, their proposed and enacted tax increases on women across America are no laughing matter.
Ryan Ellis is tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform.