Taxes are, for a change, probably the easiest area to consider when assessing the implications of healthcare reform for advisors and their clients. To be sure, nothing in the massive bill is easy, but the main thrust of who gets taxed most is clear: high income and investment earners.
Starting in 2013, there’s a 0.9% increase in Medicare payroll taxes for people earning more than $200,000 annually and for couples earning $250,000, plus a 3.8% surtax on investment income like dividends and capital gains.
“A married couple making $200,000 including investment income? They’re safe,” said Bernard Kiely, president of Kiely Capital Management, a RIA in Morristown, New Jersey. “But what happens when they start to take their required minimum distribution from their IRAs? The IRA distribution is not subject to the surtax but it could push other interest, dividends, and capital gains into the surtax.”
In a keen bit of detective work, Kiely seems to have uncovered a morsel of good news from any potential surtax high earners might pay: counteracting the Alternative Minimum Tax.
“Most people I deal with are paying the Alternative Minimum Tax,” Kiely said. “If their regular tax goes up, their AMT goes down an equal amount.
“If I’m paying $5,000 in AMT and I get a tax increase of $4,000, I’m now only paying $1,000 in AMT,” Kiely continues. “So my tax bill doesn’t change. And I have not seen that discussed anyplace.”
As for new strategies advisors might follow with the implications of the healthcare surtax, Kiely thinks only a one-time adjustment is necessary.
“Taxable interest would be subject to this surtax. Municipal bond interest would not. So this is more of a reason to be investing in municipal bonds,” Kiely said. “Dividend income would be subject to the surtax, capital gains would be subject to the surtax, so now when somebody is looking at appreciated stock there’s another reason not to sell it because of the tax.”
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