Regardless Of “Trumpcare” Outcome, “Obamacare” Being Starved To Death

Obamacare Vs. Trumpcare

At R&G Brenner, one of our cardinal rules is that we try to remain apolitical. Simply put, the acrimony and division exhibited these last few elections cycles has clearly increased in frequency & intensity. R&G Brenner services thousands of clients across all political spectrums, and it is simply not good business to potentially upset even one of our clients.  However, when speaking about a subject like health care, it is impossible not to dive into politics; and this is really is the crux of the problem:  How did health care become such a political lightning rod?  Furthermore, is a “for profit” health care system sustainable or doomed for failure regardless if one thinks “Obamacare” or “Trumpcare” is better?  These questions are all made exponentially more difficult living in a time when “fake news” has distorted fact from fiction.  Nevertheless, here is an attempt at answering these questions, and why the conclusion will show that regardless of the ultimate outcome of “Trumpcare”, “Obamacare” is under attack from many different angles & being starved; all but ensuring it’s failure.

Obamacare

A quick trip down memory lane:  The year was 2009.  President Obama was greeted with the worst recession the U.S. ever experienced.  Stocks plunged. Banks & Financial firms disappeared. Savings evaporated. Millions lost their jobs. Hundreds of thousands walked away from their homes.  It’s easy to forget how serious the state of the global economy was in.  On the surface, it was puzzling to many pundits and pols alike why Obama’s first order of business would be health care reform as opposed to focusing on the economy.  However, when you look at the data that health care expenditures made up a whopping 16.5% of the U.S. GDP in 2009, health care premiums were skyrocketing every year, millions of Americans could not obtain health care due to preexisting conditions, millions more used the hospital emergency room as their primary health care provider (and many didn’t or couldn’t pay the bills) contributing to the rise in overall costs, it’s not hard to see that health Care reform was not only an economic issue, but also a moral one.  I think everyone would agree that no American should ever have to decide between living under crippling debt…or dying.  Obama decided that he would expend his political capital on Health Care reform; and expend it he did:  Political incitement & fear created a growing chorus of socialism, death panels, birther conspiracy theories, Obama negotiating in “secret”, “ramming it down the American people’s throat” & “keep the government out of my Medicare” (Medicare is government run) which eventually gave rise to the Tea Party movement and ultimately cost the Democrats majorities in both the House & Senate. While the truth of these claims can (and have been) debated ad nausea, what can not be debated is that these were clearly politically effective tactics.  Nevertheless, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law and was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court.  It has been a political lightning rod ever since.

Trumpcare

Fast forward 8 years and enter “Trumpcare”; currently known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA).   On the campaign trail and throughout the early days of his administration, President Trump has called Obamacare a “disaster” and promised to replace it with something “terrific“: more choices, cheaper plans, greater coverage & “insurance for everybody”.  These lofty promises would be considered extremely difficult even with a unified party. However, not much is known about Trumpcare. Why?  Well, because nobody really knows what in it yet as it was negotiated in secret and rammed through committees in the dead of night; all before the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assesses the bill.  This irony is not lost on Democrats or anyone who is watching the GOP engage in the very tactics they howled about when the Democrats were the majority party in power.  But, this type of hypocrisy has become the norm in today’s political landscape. Besides, it is no guarantee that Trump will be able to garner the support he needs from his his own party to pass an Obamacare replacement (and its foolhardy to believe he can rely on any Democratic votes).  Simply put, the steady diet of questionable fear-based claims that were fed to GOP/Tea Party constituents essentially amounted to Obamacare destroying the fabric of American values.  This type of absolutist rhetoric makes compromise not only a dirty word, but down right impossible; not only with bipartisanship, but within the Republican party.  What the recent town halls in Republican districts have shown, is that the fear surrounding an Obamacare repeal and losing health insurance is very real.  While it’s not wise to judge a bill before it’s final form it is very hard to see how Trump will be able to keep his promises of a “terrific” health care plan when his own party is unable to agree & unify behind a legitimate alternative; especially when estimates show up to 10 million may lose their insurance coverage under the AHCA.  This puts the GOP is in a very tenuous position; will they be able to overcome all the roadblocks they have created for Democrats which they now find in their own way and deliver on their promises?  Or will the chickens come home to roost?

A Dangerous Game

Regardless of the fate of an Obamacare replacement, this much is clear:  Republicans are playing a very dangerous game.  “Death panels” never were a real thing.  But if the GOP passes a bill that takes away or makes it impossible for someone previously covered under Obamacare to get insurance, that is playing politics with American’s lives. Trump appears to be discovering that Health Care reform is very complex.  Obamacare is a huge piece of legislation that took months to complete. It became clear after the ACA was implemented, that improvements were needed as the flaws began to reveal themselves.  But at this point, bipartisanship changes to a a law that passed with a single Republican vote was a fantasy.  Rather, Republicans dug in their heals and tried & failed to get Obamacare repealed…62 times.  Republican resistance centered around a) making Democrats own Obamacare entirely; something they proclaimed would be an immediate failure and b) accepted dogma that everything the government does is bad and everything the private sector does is good.  While there are certainly valid reasons to pare down government, the notion that EVERYTHING the government does is bad has proven to be false: Police & Firemen do not ask if you paid your taxes before running into a burning building or replying to a distress call…and nor should they.  But this is the corner the GOP has painted themselves into.  As a result, since Obamacare’s inception, more and more insurance companies have left the insurance exchange markets.  Those that railed against Obamacare have warned for years of a “Death Spiral”; that costs and care would spiral out of control and lead to Obamacare’s demise.  However, doing nothing to improve the law and making it unattractive for insurers to stay in the exchanges was also good way to ensure this self-fulfilling prophesy.  Nevertheless, the “death spiral” didn’t occur; even with this methodical chipping at the foundation which the ACA was built upon, Obamacare still survives…that is until now.

One of the most contentious (and very important) aspects of the ACA is the individual mandate; that those of a certain age must obtain health insurance or pay a penalty on their tax returns for failing to carry insurance.  These penalties gradually increased and maxed out this tax year at $2,085 per family.  This negative-incentive was essential to a) ensuring the pool of insured was large enough and comprised of younger & healthy individuals to make it attractive for health insurance companies to cover higher risk individuals (i.e. those with preexisting conditions) and b) for those that opted to forego insurance, the assessed penalties (which would be reflected on their annual tax returns) would cover the subsides issued to lower-income taxpayers.  Without the individual mandate a “death spiral” would be inevitable.  As such, the IRS very quietly announced the following a few weeks ago:

“…The individual shared responsibility provision requires you and each member of your family to do at least one of the following:

  • Have qualifying health coverage called minimum essential coverage
  • Qualify for a health coverage exemption
  • Make a shared responsibility payment with your federal income tax return for the months that you did not have coverage or an exemption…

This year, the IRS put in place system changes that would reject tax returns during processing in instances where the taxpayer didn’t provide information related to health coverage….However, the Jan. 20, 2017, executive order directed federal agencies to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden.‎ Consistent with that, the IRS has decided to make changes that would continue to allow electronic and paper returns to be accepted for processing in instances where a taxpayer doesn’t indicate their coverage status…”

In other words, the IRS has interpreted Trump’s executive order and will no longer reject tax returns that do not indicate their insurance coverage status.  Furthermore, Trump has indicated he may not to enforce the individual mandate. Critically, the decision to Repeal, Replace or do nothing to Obamacare is irrelevant. Coupled with the insurance companies fleeing the exchange markets, failure to enforce the individual mandate will surely spell the death knell of Obamacare.

Why is this so dangerous?  Well, In the 7 years of fighting tooth & nail against anything short of repeal, Republicans did not offer a single alternative plan until they were forced to a couple of weeks ago.  Trump & the GOP has already set the doomsday clock in motion on Obamacare; all without a viable & workable alternative in sight.  Furthermore,  Trump doesn’t seem troubled by this. During a recent meeting with Conservatives, Trump’s nonchalant message was thus: Don’t worry, if our bill fails, we’ll just blame the Democrats.  Not only is this an extremely cynical approach, its extremely irresponsible.

Regardless of political affiliation, as a human being, this should not feel right. Being in the minority “opposition party” has proven to be politically beneficial; its easy to criticize when you are not expected to offer alternatives. However, now that the GOP is in power, will they bare the level of responsibility expected of the majority party.  Early returns suggest they will not.  Will the GOP be able to shirk the blame for destroying Obamacare and pretending it “failed on it’s own”?  Will the GOP decide it is better to let Obamacare fail then to take the political risk of owning their own replacement?  Is it even possible to sustain a “for profit” health insurance system?  Is the only viable solution a single-payer or “Medicare-for-all” system?  Absent a congressional “Kumbaya” moment of coming together for the greater good of the country (which does not seem possible for the foreseeable future), we may soon get the answers to all of these questions.  The only remaining question is: will the majority party in power risk the lives of thousands—even millions—of Americans to reveal these answers?  This is the most frightening question of all.

The Affordable Care Act Includes a Tax on Medical Devices. Is That a Bad Thing?

What's The Big Deal About The Medical Device Tax?
What’s The Big Deal About The Medical Device Tax?

Were one to listen to the bipartisan rhetoric that has been whipped up in the House against the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, it’s easy to see how a relatively small tax can be enough to scare a whole lot of people. Everything from the claims of company closures to the threat of over 43,000 American jobs being shipped overseas is being blamed on this tax, so finding the truth can take a bit of digging past the $150 million spent on lobbying against it since 2008.

What Is this Tax and Why Does it Exist?

The ADA Medical Device Excise Tax is a 2.3% tax on medical devices. Everything from gloves to stethoscopes to X-ray machines is subject to the tax. The law is unconcerned with and doesn’t specify where the device needs to be made to be taxed, as long as it is being sold in the U.S. However, if a device is exported to be sold elsewhere, the tax does not apply. The tax was created as part of a way to ensure that the ACA helps fund medical insurance coverage and is intended to produce $29 billion in revenue. However, in 2013 it was discovered that even the expected amount of tax is not being collected. Because the medical device industry has spent millions to ensure a causal association between the tax and lost jobs, Congresspeople of both parties are worried about the effects of the law on constituent companies in their areas.

“43,000 Jobs Lost”

A statistic often repeated in industry papers and invoked in the halls of Congress is that tens of thousands of American jobs have been lost as a result of the addition of the tax. The most common claim, that 43,000 jobs were (or will be) lost, comes from a study by Diana and Harold Furchtgott-Roth commonly cited by AvraMed and other lobbying companies. However, when called on to discuss the study by the Annenberg Institute, the lobbying group revealed that the number was actually significantly smaller and that in fact many of the losses had nothing to do with the excise tax at all.

Whether the Tax Is at Issue or Not, It Will Be Coming Up In 2015

As the medical device lobbying industry has been using a flawed statistic on which to found its claim, and the White House isn’t blinking, this will probably become an issue in the new term among the new Republican Congress. But are they likely to vote against the tax? While it’s hard to say for certain, it’s been predicted that they will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act first (expecting that effort to fail) and then begin to attack supporting pillars of the Act, such as the Medical Device tax.

How successful such a strategy will ultimately be depends on the political will of the President, who may very well try to find another $30 billion to cover for the potential loss, and the collective will of the new Republican Congress hungry to damage the President’s agenda. Depending on whether or not cuts can be made elsewhere to compensate for the loss, the medical device tax is one that the President seems willing to lose to keep his signature legislation alive.  However, this calculus can change depending on the amount of cooperation the Executive & the Legislative branches show each other.

“Worst Filing Season Ever” Predicted For Taxpayers

I just got hung up on by the IRS...again!
I just got hung up on by the IRS…again!

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently suggested that the 2015 tax filing season could be misery for taxpayers and IRS employees alike. Between extensive wait times to speak to a representative, implemented laws that have not yet been reflected in the tax code and congressional gridlock, this may be the worst tax season on record.

“The filing season is going to be the worst filing season since I’ve been the National Taxpayer Advocate [in 2001]…” said National Taxpayer advocated Nina Olson.  “…I’d love to be proved wrong, but I think it will rival the 1985 filing season when returns disappeared.”

The major obstacles for this year are as follows:

  • The IRS budget has been slashed.  While the House has tried to reduce the budget, the Senate has proposed to increase the budget by $240 Million.  Even in the slim chance that it passes, that increase would still amount to a 7% decrease to the IRS’ 2010 budget.
  • Multiple laws congress has passed, the IRS has yet to implement into its systems.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) and other laws require information from health care providers and other agencies in order to process tax returns correctly…and that is before the antiquated computer systems of the IRS have to be updated
  • The uncertainty surrounding “Tax Extenders”; multiple tax laws that either need to be extended, adjusted and/or replaced.  There are currently over 50 of them.  If these laws are not addressed before December, the tax season itself could be delayed

Until all these issues are resolved, you can expect extra long waits and dropped calls at the IRS like last year when nearly half of the phone calls to the IRS went unanswered.

With all this uncertainty, if there was ever  year to have the help of a qualified tax professional, this is it. Contact R&G Brenner today to find out how we can help you.  “Saving you time and money is what we’re all about”.

Source: Forbes

What To Do If You Missed The Obamacare Deadline

You May Still Qualify For Obamacare After The Deadline
You May Still Qualify For Obamacare After The Deadline

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been the law of the land since March 23, 2010. Under the provisions of the law, nearly every American is required to have an insurance plan on or before April 15, 2014 in order to avoid certain penalties mandated under the Act. After many separate repeal attempts and a lengthy court battle that resulted in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding the law, more than 8 million individuals have enrolled in health insurance plans through the state and federal exchanges set up by the government.

Glitches with the government website, healthcare.gov, in late 2013, coupled with an unplanned government shutdown by Congress, caused the original December 15, 2013 enrollment deadline to be moved several times. The final deadline of April 15, 2014 was designed to account for those individuals who might have experienced problems signing up for coverage. If you were unable to enroll before the deadline, there may be steps you can take to either obtain coverage or be considered exempt from the individual mandate which would result in a penalty.

Determine If You Are Eligible to Enroll for Coverage

Certain persons are permitted to enroll in Obamacare after the fact in what is known as the special enrollment period. The special enrollment period permits enrollment through the health care Marketplace even after the deadline has passed, provided the individual has a qualifying life event or can prove that he or she experienced some complex set of circumstances while applying into the Marketplace that prevented the individual from meeting the deadline.

Qualifying life events include such things as a dramatic change in income, a move from one state to another, marriage, divorce or the addition of a child to your family, and illness. Errors during the enrollment period, any misinformation or misrepresentation committed by an assister during the enrollment process or an exceptional circumstance like a natural disaster or hospitalization are examples of complex circumstances that will permit you to enroll in coverage. You will need to be able to provide evidence of your eligibility in order to qualify for the exception.

Determine If You Are Eligible to Enroll for Medicaid or CHIP

If you are an individual whose income is within 133% of the federal poverty level and you meet additional requirements, you may be able to apply to either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program known (CHIP) for coverage. Enrollment for these programs is open-ended and depends on certain factors to determine your eligibility. These factors include the state in which you reside, the size of your household and income, whether you or another family member have a qualifying disability and other factors related to the condition of your family or family situation. Enrolling in either Medicaid or CHIP meets what is referred to as the minimal essential level of coverage under the law and may help you avoid the individual mandate penalty.

Apply for Short-Term Health Insurance Coverage

If you have failed to obtain the minimum essential coverage under Obamacare before the April 15th deadline and are not eligible for Medicaid, CHIP or other qualifying coverage, you may want to consider applying for short-term coverage. Short-term coverage will provide you with some level of protection in the event of a medical emergency. These plans typically provide 6 to 12 months of interim coverage and may be an appropriate stop-gap until the November 15, 2014 open enrollment period begins.

Understanding Obamacare’s Hardship Exemption

 

How The ACA Affects Your Taxes
Do You Qualify for a Hardship Exemption?

9 million individuals have signed up for health insurance as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). Also referred to as the ACA or Obamacare, the law requires all Americans to purchase or be covered under a plan of insurance for healthcare by  March 31, 2014. Failure to obtain coverage by this date results in a penalty that will be assessed on your 2014 tax return.

Problems with the operation of the website used for enrollments resulted in an expansion of the hardship exemption to individuals whose health insurance plans were cancelled. The exemption allows certain individuals to bypass the requirement for insurance coverage under extraordinary circumstances or hardship. It is important to understand both the individual mandate and hardship exemption and how it may affect your requirement to purchase health insurance under the ACA.

About the Individual Mandate

The individual mandate was created as a penalty to induce those individuals who otherwise qualified for health insurance to become enrolled in a plan of coverage. If a person is not otherwise exempt from the requirement to purchase health insurance they are subject to a non-compliance penalty beginning this year. The amount of the penalty is the greater of $95 or 1% of your taxable income in 2013. For example, if your taxable income in 2013 was $40,000, the penalty amount you would be assessed for not having health insurance would be $400.  However, this penalty can grow to over $2000 per family by 2016.

Basic Exemptions from Affordable Care Act Requirements

The individual mandate to purchase health insurance applies to nearly all Americans. Those not required to enroll in an individual plan of coverage before the deadline under the ACA include the following:

  • those who are currently insured;
  • individuals covered by either Medicare, Medicaid or state sponsored health insurance plan;
  • veteran health or TRICARE plan participants;
  • individuals who are permitted to claim a religious exemption;
  • persons who are undocumented and living in the United States;
  • individuals who are incarcerated;
  • Native American tribe members; and
  • those with individual income of $10,000 or household income of $20,000 in 2013 or where health insurance premiums represent 8% or more of their income.

Hardship Exemptions for the Individual Mandate

The hardship exemption, as explained in the ACA, is provided for those individuals who may not meet the requirements of the basic exemptions enumerated in the law. There are 14 different categories available for individuals looking to claim a hardship exemption from the individual mandate penalty imposed under the law.

These categories include: (1) homelessness; (2) notice of eviction or foreclosure within the six month period prior to January 1, 2014; (3) utility shut-off notice; (4) victim of domestic violence; (5) death of a close family member; (6) property damage due to a natural or human caused disaster; (7) a bankruptcy filing; (8) accrued medical expenses for at least 2 years; (9) an increase in expense related to the care of a family member who is ill, disabled or aging; (10) claiming a dependent child denied CHIP or Medicaid and subject of a court order for someone else to pay medical support for the child; (11) eligibility appeals decision for coverage; (12) reside in a state that did not expand Medicaid eligibility under ACA; (13) cancelled insurance coverage; and, (14) other hardship. 

Qualifying for a hardship requires the filing of an application and the provision of certain supporting documents as required for the numbered hardship exemption. Once approved, a hardship exemption certificate number will be issued that must be placed on your tax return in order to waive the individual mandate penalty.

For more information relating to the health care exchanges, please contact R&G Brenner’s insurance division at healthcare@rgbrenner.com.

Understanding Obamacare: How The Affordable Care Act Will Affect Your Taxes

How The ACA Affects Your Taxes
How The ACA Affects Your Taxes

Certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) are set to take effect in 2014, some of which may have an impact on taxpayers. The PPACA, more colloquially known as “Obamacare,” is the new healthcare law that sets up either a state or government run health exchanges. Along with the change in healthcare accessibility comes a change in taxes.

Whether you agree or disagree with the new law, there’s a good chance that your taxes will be affected by it in one of four major ways:

  • You could receive a tax credit to help you pay insurance premiums.
  • You will experience a tax increase on Medicare if you fall within a certain income bracket.
  • You will have an increased tax on any investment income if you fall within a certain tax bracket; or,
  • You will be penalized, via tax, for not purchasing some form of healthcare.

Receiving a Tax Credit

If you qualify (eligibility is determined by income, family size, and age) then you will receive a tax credit that will help you to pay your health insurance premiums at the start of 2014. In order to be entitled to the tax credit, an individual must earn between 100%-400% of the federal poverty line, or approximately between $11,000-$46,000 dollars a year. For a family of four, a family must earn less than $94,000 to receive any portion of a tax credit. 

Tax Increases on Medicare

If you make over $200,000 dollars a year as an individual or $250,000 collectively as a couple, the new law adds an additional 0.9% tax on your payroll taxes to pay for the Medicare expansion. The 0.9% tax will automatically be withheld from an individual’s paycheck if the individual earns more than $200,000 per year. However, if you make less than $200,000 per year on your own but are married and you and your spouse make $250,000 dollars or more collectively, the 0.9% won’t be withheld from your taxes—and you will be responsible for paying that amount at tax time. 

Tax Increase on Investment Income

Just like the changes in the Medicare tax, this tax increase also focuses on individuals making more than $200,000 dollars per year or couples who collectively make more than $250,000 per year. Unlike the Medicare tax, though, this hike only applies to a tax filer’s adjusted gross income rather than total income. Those who fall within this income category are responsible for an additional 3.8% investment income tax

Being Taxed for Lacking Insurance Coverage

One of the components of the Affordable Care Act—known as the Shared Responsibility Provision —specifies that obtaining health insurance in mandatory, and a fee will be incurred by anyone choosing not to purchase insurance. The tax will present itself in one of two ways in 2014:

  • You will be charged 1% of your income tax, or
  • You will be charged $95.00 per year (whichever one is more is what you’ll be responsible for).

The fee for failing to obtain insurance increases thereafter:  In 2015 it’s 2% of your income, and in 2016 it’s 2.5% of your income or $695 per person (the maximum fee per family is $2,085). Thereafter, the penalty is increased based on the cost-of-living adjustment. The idea is to eventually charge a fee that’s more or or less in line with the cost of obtaining health insurance, encouraging people to opt into the exchange rather than pay a high fee and received nothing in return.

Please let us know your experience in the comments section below–positive or negative–as it relates to obtaining health insurance on the newly created exchanges.

Biggest Tax Law Changes For 2014

irs-logo-tax-1040-form
The Biggest Tax Changes For 2014

With the upcoming tax season already delayed, and many tax proposals still being debated in a contentious congress, Chad Fisher over at gobanking.com lists the 5 biggest changes for the 2014 tax season taxpayers can expect:

1. FICA and Medicare Taxes

Last year, many filers noticed a startling increase in their taxes thanks to FICA tax hikes.

FICA, or the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, includes both Social Security and Medicare taxes. The current FICA tax rate is 7.65 percent. Higher-income earners might be facing an additional 0.9 percent tax, which results in an effective tax rate of 2.35 percent for single taxpayers who earn more than $200,000 and joint filers who earn more than $250,000 a year.

Self-employed taxpayers pay 15.3 percent in FICA taxes, because they don’t have an employer with which to share the cost.

These increases were due in part to the projected cost of Social Security growing faster than its income. While there will be no tax increase this year related to FICA, the wage base is slated to increase.

The wage base is the maximum amount of income that can be taxed for Social Security purposes. In 2013, the wage base was $113,700; this year, the wage base is predicted to increase to $115,500.

2. Exemptions and Deductions

The tax code is designed to accommodate inflation. Although many Americans are extremely wary of inflation, this adjustment can actually help taxpayers save. Adjustments ensure that filers are in the appropriate tax bracket, but they also affect tax breaks such as exemptions and standard deductions.

In 2014, these adjustments could save middle-income married couples as much as $200. Single filers will see savings, as well. Personal exemptions will also be adjusted for inflation, and limits for IRA contributions, education credits and similar benefits will increase.

Some taxpayers could still benefit from itemizing their deductions; anyone interested in doing so should discuss options and scenarios with a licensed tax professional.

3. The Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could well be the biggest change to taxes in 2014. Employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees will be facing a tax penalty if they fail to provide affordable essential health coverage to their employees.

Individuals who fail to purchase coverage might also be subject to a penalty. Adults could be facing a fine of $95, while the penalty for uninsured children will be $47.50. This fine will increase annually and, by 2016, will be $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of the total household’s taxable income, whichever is greater.

On the flip side of the penalty are new tax credits and subsidies. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees and non-profit organizations could be eligible for tax credits if they meet the minimum coverage requirements.

Individuals will not receive tax credits but could be eligible for subsidies that help them purchase coverage through state or federal health insurance exchanges.

4. Students Loans

Many struggle to pay their student loans after graduation. In 2014, students who receive loans to fund their education will have more affordable payments that will not exceed 10 percent of their income.

Some students will be eligible to have their debts forgiven after a decade, including those who are in the military, and those who work as nurses or teachers. Other students could also be eligible for debt forgiveness after 20 years.

5. Other Tax Law Changes

Other changes have also been proposed. One proposal that is estimated to reduce the deficit by $44 billion over the next decade would repeal tax preferences for oil, gas and coal producers.

New jobs and wage increases could offer a temporary 10 percent tax credit, and investing in advanced energy manufacturing would also merit new tax credits.

Additional proposals have been made to create small-employer tax credits, expand the child and dependent care tax credit, and reform the low-income housing tax credits. The federal tax on tobacco products and cigarettes may be increased as well.

Many of the tax law changes on the horizon would be beneficial to a large percentage of taxpayers. Both refundable and non-refundable tax credits could significantly decrease the tax burden of individuals or couples. However, it is important that wage earners discuss their unique situations with a tax professional.

If you have any questions regarding these or other potential 2014 tax law changes, please contact an R&G Brenner tax professional today, or let us know in the comments section below.

Source: gobanking.com