Thursday, February 10, 2011

President Barack Obama Says He Didn't Raise Taxes Once, But He Did

In an interview with Bill O'Reilly, President Barack Obama said, "I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years." However, fact checkers were quick to point out that the President has in fact raised a few taxes including those levied on cigarettes as well as the tax implications of health care reform. Income taxes? Sure, those have not gone up, but as for other taxes… President Obama seems to have a selective memory.


    Looking at the whole statement, he's both right and wrong. For clarity's sake, we're going to take Obama's statement in two parts. Here, we'll look at his statement, "I didn't raise taxes once." In a separate report, we'll look at his statement, "I lowered taxes over the last two years."

    The idea that Obama did not raise taxes is just plain wrong. He signed legislation raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products soon after taking office; that money goes to pay for children's health insurance programs. The law went into effect in 2009. He also signed the health care law, which includes taxes on indoor tanning that went into effect last year. (Regular PolitiFact readers will remember our fact-check of reality TV star Snooki and her complaint about the new tax last year.)

    The new health care law also includes a tax on people who decide not to have health insurance, as an incentive for them to get coverage. The tax phases in gradually, starting in 2014. By 2016, the tax would be $695 per uninsured person up to a maximum of three times that amount, or $2,085. The law includes exemptions for people who can't find affordable insurance, and a few other special circumstances.

    More significantly, the health care law includes new taxes on the wealthy, starting in 2013. Individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples that make more than $250,000 will see additional Medicare taxes of 0.9 percent. They will also, for the first time, have to pay Medicare taxes on their investment income at a 3.8 percent rate. (Current law is that all workers and employers split a 2.9 percent Medicare tax; the self-employed pay all of it.)

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