The "fiscal cliff" is grabbing all the headlines these days, as
Congress and the White House haggle over potential tax increases and
But even as lawmakers go back and forth in Washington, some consumers are already primed to see changes on their tax returns after 2013. That's because several provisions of Obamacare take effect on Jan. 1.
Experts say 2013 isn't as big a year for Obamacare as 2014, when individual and business mandates kick in.
"There won't be any significant changes in Nevada's insurance marketplace in 2013," said Todd Rich, deputy commissioner of the Nevada Division of Insurance.
Added Lyndsay White, a tax manager and CPA with the Las Vegas accounting firm of Houldsworth, Russo & Co.: "There's not as much going on in terms of implementation in 2013. The questions I'm getting are about what happens in 2014."
Still, small-business owners, high-income earners, patients who write off medical expenses and consumers with flexible spending accounts will notice a few tax tweaks after New Year's Day.
There also will be a new tax on medical devices, such as pacemakers, MRIs and tongue depressors. For the first time, Medicare payroll taxes will apply not just to wages, but also to some investment income. And Nevadans will be able to enroll for the first time in member-owned insurance co-ops, designed to offer competition for existing insurance plans.
The idea behind many of the changes is to raise revenue for Obamacare's costs, including subsidies to help Americans buy health insurance after 2014's coverage mandate kicks in.
In all, 2013's new taxes and fees would raise $258.4 billion in federal revenue through 2019, according to numbers from the National Federation of Independent Business' Research Foundation.
New Medicare taxes will raise the biggest chunk of that revenue.
Reform-related taxes won't directly hit many consumers. But accountants say the levies are already affecting the economy in subtle ways.
The taxes include a 0.9 percent Medicare surtax, on top of the existing 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax, on wage income above $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers.
There also is a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on investment income such as rent, dividends, interest and capital gains on properties, again for single filers earning more than $200,000 to joint filers earning more than $250,000.
Together, the two taxes will raise $210 billion through 2019. Revenue raised will not go to Medicare, but to funding coverage subsidies after 2014.
Though the taxes haven't yet taken effect, Chris Wilcox, a shareholder in local CPA firm Johnson Jacobson Wilcox, said he has clients who are shaking up their business practices to prepare for the costs.
"That's a pretty significant tax burden that will hit higher- income people, and a lot of them own the businesses you and I work for," Wilcox said.
One client is trying to beat the clock on a business purchase, because the new taxes would boost the buying price after Jan. 1. Others are paying out dividends now, to avoid higher investment income levies, while still others are sitting on their cash and doing nothing at all.
"There's just so much uncertainty with what the true cost is going to be for Obamacare, and they're just kind of sitting on money
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