15 Jul 2009

Obamacare Based on Looting US Small Businesses

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60% of Americans pay no income taxes right now. Democrats want people who do pay taxes to buy everybody their health care, too. How do they plan to pay for all this?

With more than a trillion dollars in new taxes, falling primarily on small business owners and investors, as the Wall Street Journal explains:

(The) draft bill would impose a “surtax” on individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $280,000 a year. This would hit job creators especially hard because more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners, operators or investors, according to a 2007 Treasury study. That study also found that almost half of the income taxed at this highest rate is small business income from the more than 500,000 sole proprietorships and subchapter S corporations whose owners pay the individual rate.

In addition, many more smaller business owners with lower profits would be hit by the Rangel plan’s payroll tax surcharge. That surcharge would apply to all firms with 25 or more workers that don’t offer health insurance to their employees, and it would amount to an astonishing eight percentage point fee above the current 15% payroll levy.

Here’s the ugly income-tax math. First, Mr. Obama has promised to let the lower Bush tax rates expire after 2010. This would raise the top personal income tax rate to 39.6% from 35%, and the next rate to 36% from 33%. The Bush expiration would also phase out various tax deductions and exemptions, bringing the top marginal rate to as high as 41%.

Then add the Rangel Surtax of one percentage point, starting at $280,000 ($350,000 for couples), plus another percentage point at $400,000 ($500,000 for couples), rising to three points on more than $800,000 ($1 million) in 2011. But wait, there’s more. The surcharge could rise by two more percentage points in 2013 if health-care costs are larger than advertised — which is a near-certainty. Add all of this up and the top marginal tax rate would climb to 46%, which hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since the Reagan tax reform of 1986 cut the top rate to 28% from 50%.

States have also been raising their income tax rates, so in California and New York City the top rate would be around 58%. The Tax Foundation reports that at least half of all states would have combined state-federal tax rates of more than 50%.

Mr. Rangel also wants to apply his surcharges to investment income like capital gains. So the combined effect of repealing the Bush tax cuts and the new surcharges would be to raise the tax on stock appreciation by at least 60% — to as high as 24% from 15% today. President Obama has been worrying about a capital squeeze on small businesses, but raising the capital gains tax would only further starve them of funds. …

America’s successful small businesses would pay higher tax rates than the Fortune 500, and for that matter than most companies around the world. The corporate federal-state tax rate applied to General Electric and Google is about 39% in the U.S., and the business tax rate is about 25% in the OECD countries. So the U.S. would have close to the most punitive taxes on small business income anywhere on the globe.

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Greg Mankiw notes that the final tax impact after state sales taxes are included would take over half of top earners’ incomes.

(Some) calculations seem to ignore sales taxes, which are significant in many states. Because income earned will eventually be spent and thus subject to sales taxes, sales tax rates need to be combined with income tax rates to find the true tax wedge that distorts the consumption-leisure decision. Once sales taxes are included, a top earner in a typical state would face a marginal tax rate of about 55 percent.

So much for an economic recovery. If this monstrosity passes, get ready for many years of economic chaos and decline. Teach your kids how to ask “Will you have fries with that?” in Mandarin would be my advice.

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