March 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Taxes. Love them (does anyone?) or hate them, they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. So tax breaks and new ways to take some of the tax burden off individuals is always something that catches my eye. In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, the author discussed the new tax rules involving gift taxes; “For the next two years, the gift-tax exemption jumps to $5 million from $1 million for individuals and to $10 million from $2 million for couples…”. People receiving gifts that exceed these amounts have also been cut a break, with the tax rate dropping from 55% to 35%. In recent years, the estate tax exemption amount was raised to 5 million and amounts exceeding the 5 million mark received a tax rate drop to 35%. I thought it was interesting to note that the only states that impose an additional state gift tax are Tennessee and Connecticut.
Ultimately it’s nice to see tax reform occurring, even if it will only affect some taxpayers. Personally, raising the gift-tax exemption does not have an effect on me. I’d like to see more reform occur at lower-income levels instead of at the higher level helping people with millions of dollars worth in assets.
February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
This Wall Street Journal article discussed the possibility of treating health benefits as taxable income. I found it interesting to look at the idea of health care reform through an accounting perspective. While there are numerous and varied opinions about the Affordable Health Care Act, a survey answered by top economic bloggers showed that “[d]espite their split feelings on the health-care act…almost all the respondents – some 71% – agreed that the solution to America’s health-care crisis is to tax health benefits as income.” This caught my attention because of the high number of respondents who, despite varying viewpoints on the health care act itself, agreed that taxing health care benefits was the solution to a complex problem. The article goes on to explain that by being taxed on their health care benefits, employees would be more aware of the cost associated with such benefits and would have the opportunity to take that cost and compare it to other insurances on the open market. I think that the possibility of taxing health care benefits does have its advantages, especially if this increase in income allows the government to decrease tax rates without losing income, as the article points out. It could prove to be a good idea because it places an economic value on something that many people, both employees and entrepeneurs, don’t always know how to account for.
January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
While I was unable to watch the President’s speech on television, I was able to read the text of his address to the nation online through the Washington Post. I think it was wise of the President to place emphasis on the need for unity among both parties if any type of serious action was to be accomplished, specifically when he said that “[n]ew laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.” His call for increased support of innovative ideas also seemed promising but I don’t think his proposed budget for investing in numerous research and development projects will create the jobs that Americans are looking for. The importance he placed on continued development of clean-energy sources and the ability for new jobs to come from this development is something that I think could be very helpful in creating jobs if both parties are willing to work together. His “Race to the Top” program, replacing No Child Left Behind, was also something I think will help to spur education reform and I am hopeful that he will follow through with his ideas for making higher education more affordable. I think he did do a good job of highlighting the important parts of his proposals but I do not necessarily feel more secure that I will have an easier time finding employment or being able to buy a house someday. Time will tell.