120 days left until Bush Tax Cuts end

bush tax cuts signing

bush tax cuts signing

“Almost everything disappears at the end of next year,” says Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center here. “If that happens, almost everyone who pays taxes will see a substantial tax increase.”

For the past half year, economists and pundits have been warning us all about a coming “double dip” recession (which is essentially a depression with a brief interruption with government spending) coming to the US economy. It would seem that the majority of the pundits and analysts have solely been focusing on the pending failure of bail out spending, and that they were so busy focusing on recent events that they neglected to focus on the past deliberate attempts to foil the US economy.

In terms of increasing inequality, the effect of Bush’s tax cuts on the upper, middle and lower class is contentious. Most economists argue that the cuts have benefited the nation’s richest households at the expense of the middle and lower class, while libertarians and conservatives have claimed that tax cuts have benefitted all taxpayers. Economists Peter Orszag and William Gale described the Bush tax cuts as reverse government redistribution of wealth, “[shifting] the burden of taxation away from upper-income, capital-owning households and toward the wage-earning households of the lower and middle classes.” — Wikipedia

In 2001, Bush made significant tax cuts as part of his campaign pledge to reduce government spending. The reality is that overwhelming majority of the money Bush cut in taxes was actually BORROWED to give to rich people in the form of tax cuts that went to the top 1 per cent of America’s wealthiest people. The is redistribution of wealth! Borrowing $1.5 trillion from 300 million people and giving it to 3 million people is supposed to be something republicanism is against. Clinton raised the income tax to 39%, Bush dropped it to 36%, 0bama will take it back to 39%. He has stated that to be fact.

How will this affect the economy along with the coming astronomical soar of central bank interest rates? It will likely send the US economy into a disastrous depression worse than the “mini depression” we’re seeing right now.

Real effects of Bush tax cut expiration

Personal income tax rates will rise.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

– The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%

– The 25% bracket rises to 28%

– The 28% bracket rises to 31%

– The 33% bracket rises to 36%

– The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care tax credit will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax. This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors. The top capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The top dividends tax rate will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

Second Wave: Obamacare

There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011.  They include:

The Tanning Tax.  This went into effect on July 1st of this year.  It imposes a new, 10% excise tax on getting a tan at a tanning salon.  There is no exemption for tanners making less than $250,000 per year.

The “Medicine Cabinet Tax” Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Brand Name Drug Tax. Starting next year, there will be a multi-billion dollar tax assessment imposed on name-brand drug manufacturers.  This tax, like all excise taxes, will raise the price of medicine, hurting everyone.

Economic Substance Doctrine. The IRS is now empowered to disallow perfectly-legal tax deductions and maneuvers merely because it judges that the deduction or action lacks “economic substance.”  This is obviously an arbitrary empowerment of IRS agents.

Employer Reporting of Health Insurance Costs on a W-2.  This will start for W-2s in the 2011 tax year.  While not a tax increase in itself, it makes it very easy for Congress to tax employer-provided healthcare benefits later.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired.  The major items include:

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The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear. Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or “depreciate”) equipment purchases up to $250,000.  This will be cut all the way down to $25,000.  Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment.  In January of 2011, all of it will have to be “depreciated.”

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses. There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place.  The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others.  Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced. The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available.  Tax credits for education will be limited.  Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.  Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.  Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.  The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed. Until this year, a retired person with an IRA could contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA.  This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.”  This ability will no longer be there.

Five myths about the Bush tax cuts By William G. Gale

  1. Extending the tax cuts would be a good way to stimulate the economy.
  2. As a stimulus measure, a one- or two-year extension has one thing going for it — it would be a big intervention and would provide at least some boost to the economy. But a good stimulus policy can’t just be big; it should also offer a lot of bang for the buck.

  3. Allowing the high-income tax cuts to expire would hurt small businesses.
  4. One of the most common objections to letting the cuts expire for those in the highest tax brackets is that it would hurt small businesses. As Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently put it, allowing the cuts to lapse would amount to “a job-killing tax hike on small business during tough economic times.”

    This claim is misleading. If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets — individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.

  5. Making the tax cuts permanent will lead to long-term growth.
  6. A main selling point for the cuts was that, by offering lower marginal tax rates on wages, dividends and capital gains, they would encourage investment and therefore boost economic growth. But when it comes to fostering growth, this isn’t the whole story. The tax cuts also raised government debt — and higher government debt leads to higher interest rates. If estimates of this relationship — by former Bush Council of Economic Advisers chair Glenn Hubbard and Federal Reserve economist Eric Engen, and byoutgoing Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and myself — are accurate, then the tax cuts have raised the cost of making new investments. As the economy recovers and private borrowing rises, the upward pressure on interest rates is likely to grow even stronger.

  7. The Bush tax cuts are the main cause of the budget deficit.
  8. Although the cuts were large and drove revenue down sharply, they are not the main cause of the sizable deficit that exists today. In 2007, well after the tax cuts took effect, the budget deficit stood at 1.2 percent of GDP. By 2009, it had increased to 9.9 percent of the economy. The Bush tax cuts didn’t change between 2007 and 2009, so clearly something else is to blame.

  9. Continuing the tax cuts won’t doom the long-term fiscal picture; entitlements are the real problem.
  10. One theory holds that the country’s long-term budget shortfall is “just” an entitlements problem, the result of rising costs associated with growing Social Security rolls and increased health-care spending (via Medicare and Medicaid). Republicans like this idea because it plays down tax increases as a potential solution. Democrats like it because it makes the recent health-care package seem like even more of a triumph.

    But it just isn’t true. The deficits we face over the next decade reflect a fundamental imbalance between spending and revenue, one that goes beyond entitlements. Based on projections by the CBO, Alan Auerbach of the University of California at Berkeley and myself, among others, even if the economy returns to full employment by 2014 and stays there for the rest of the decade, the continuation of current fiscal policies, including the Bush tax cuts, would lead to a national debt in the range of 90 percent of GDP by 2020. That’s already the highest rate since just after World War II — and Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security aren’t expected to hit their steepest spending increases until after 2020.

    You can see the rest of the 5 myths at the Washington Post

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