Monday, July 26, 2010

More junk from people who would rather scare you than help you.

I get a lot of e-mail. Most of it is advertising that comes from some web site partner I once bought something from. Some of it I actually want to read and some of it I read because I think I should. The interesting ones have that Fwd mark on them, and when I open it I see a string of receipents followed by the text of the message. One came today.
This one had two Fwd's and the heading "2011 W-2 Tax Forms and Obamacare." That piqued my interest because I figured that it was one of those scare-tactic messages that people forward mindlessly, without reading it. This was the message (after the lengthy recipient list and subsequent forwards) It shows up in 14-point bold type, but I'll spare you:
Should you want to verify this, go to, enter "HR 3590" in the search box and look for "CRS Summaries." This is what you'll find. Title IX Revenue Provisions - Subtitle A: Revenue Offset"(Sec. 9002) requires employers to include in the W-2 form of each employee the aggregate cost of applicable employer-sponsored group health coverage that is excludable from the employee's gross income (excluding the value of contributions to flexible spending arrangements)."
Starting in 2011 - next year - the W-2 tax form sent by your employer will be increased to show the value of whatever health insurance you are provided. It doesn't matter if you're retired. Your gross income WILL go up by the amount of insurance your employer paid for. So you'll be required to pay taxes on a larger sum of money that you actually received. Take the tax form you just finished for 2009 and see what $15,000.00 or $20,000.00 additional gross income does to your tax debt. That's what you'll pay next year. For many it puts you into a much higher bracket. This is how the government is going to buy insurance for fifteen (15) percent that don't have insurance and it's only part of the tax increases, but it's not really a "tax increase" as such, it a redefinition of your taxable income.
Also, go to Kiplinger's and read about the thirteen (13) tax changes for 2010 that could affect you. Why am I sending you this? The same reason I hope you forward this to every single person in your address book. People have the right to know the truth because an election is coming in November. So vote intelligently, based on your values. But also adjust your tax withholding, or increase your savings, so that you aren't surprised and put in a jam when your federal income taxes are due on April 15, 2012.
Wow. Where to start? I always like to start with the facts, so I went to the web site. Sure enough, I found House Resolution 3590, but it's 960 pages and I don't have that kind of time - and I figure the e-mailer didn't either, because the Kiplinger's reference was much more informative. Mostly because the Kiplingers people have time to read 960 pages of legislation. Since the link to Kiplinger's wasn't provided (no kidding) I had to search it. You can find it here, and listed under item 3 is this little bit of info:
3. A requirement that businesses include the value of the health care benefits they provide to employees on W-2s, beginning with W-2s for 2011. The amount reported is not considered taxable income.
Surprise! It is not considered taxable income. First, it's wrong that if you're retired you will get a W-2 form. Next, it's wrong that you will be taxed for the health care benefit. It is nice that they want you to increase your savings, but don't do it because your taxable income will increase.
You'll find that when you actually read something you can glean a lot of information. What is interesting is that the e-mail tells us to go to Kiplinger's "because you have the right to know the truth," then lies to us - after failing to provide a link to the Kiplinger's article. Maybe that's because they didn't want you to read it?
Consider that your friends who may be sending you this forwarded junk e-mail are more concerned with pushing some political agenda than in actually helping you. Those aren't friends, they're just stupid people with a lot of bad information. Sadly, it's generally the Republicans who are doing things like this, and I suspect that this e-mail will be making the rounds in an effort to gain support for their dopey Tea Party candidates in November. They are only interested in two things: Finding something the Democrats support and making you afraid of it.
Do yourself a favor: Distance yourself from people who would rather scare you than inform you, and reply, like I did to all senders and tell them the truth. Or, you can direct them here. I'm not afraid to tell them how stupid they are. Either way, it should be an interesting exchange if you ever hear from them again.