Are you "rich"? Then watch your wallet, Fool, because changes are a-comin' down the IRS pike.
It looks to me like the 2008 presidential race is the Democrats' to lose. An anemic economy, a dollar that's lost something close to half its value over the last seven years, and an unpopular war begun under a Republican administration all argue strongly in favor of the opposition taking over the White House 14 months from now. But what does that mean for you, the investor?
According to an article in this morning's Washington Post, Democratic contenders for the presidency Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama shed some light on their tax plans in a debate in Las Vegas two Thursdays ago. Specifically, the Dems debated the meaning of "rich."
Sen. Obama took the view that because "only 6% of Americans make more than $97,000 a year ... 6% is not the middle class. It is the upper class." (So New York City firefighters, Los Angeles screenwriters, and most two-income households in the Washington, D.C. area, congratulations! You're rich.) Sen. Obama supports raising the existing cap on payroll taxes to extract higher taxes -- sorry, "Social Security contributions" from such folk.
Taking the more nuanced view was Sen. Clinton, who pointed out that "there are people who would find [levying the 12.4% Social Security tax on incomes in excess of $97,000] burdensome." (Sorry, firefighters, screenwriters, and the rest. You're poor again.) To which Sen. Obama responded that he would be happy to compromise on a "doughnut hole" arrangement. Lucky you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, you will get to pay payroll taxes up to 97 grand, then coast until you hit "$250,000 or $300,000" -- at which point the payroll taxes will kick back in again.
Yes, Sen. Obama actually came out and advocated a plan that labels itself with the much-maligned "doughnut hole" concept. Personally, I'm starting to dread the thought of my 2009 income tax filing, as my head spins over how to work the new math. But one thing seems clear: Whoever wins the election come November 2008, the real winners will be tax-prep firms like Jackson Hewitt
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