Monday, July 13, 2009

Democrats Agree on Tax Hike to Fund Health Care

From the Washington

House Democrats agreed yesterday to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for a sweeping expansion of the nation's health-care system, proposing a surtax on the highest earners that could send the top federal tax rate toward 45 percent.

Beginning in 2011, the plan would target all income over $350,000 a year for families and $280,000 a year for individuals, Democratic sources said. The surtax would start at 1 percent, rise to around 1.5 percent for families earning more than $500,000, then step up again, to around 3 percent, for families earning more than $1 million, Democrats said.

That would raise about $550 billion over the next decade, Democrats said -- about half the cost of reforms that are expected to cost about $1 trillion. The surtax percentages could rise two years later, they added, if lawmakers think additional cash is needed to cover the cost of health-care reform.

The top federal tax rate currently stands at 35 percent, but Democrats have vowed to raise it to 39.6 percent next year, when cuts enacted during the Bush administration expire. Combined with other federal tax adjustments, the surtax could leave most taxpayers with annual incomes more than $350,000 facing top federal rates of at least 45 percent, said Robert Carroll, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

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