Politicians don’t live under the same health care or retirement systems the rest of us do – so promises, for them, are easy to make.
Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®
I’m not sure how many of the candidates who are running on government supported Medicare for everyone majored in economics or finance – it maybe explains the obvious their all-to-obvious failure to address the question directly.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, promised that it won’t cost the middle class “one penny” – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by any country now offering universal health care. According to an inciteful Advisor Perspectives article by Rick Kahler, CFP® and registered investment advisor based in Rapid City, S.D., the middle class in those countries pay income taxes of up to 40% and a national sales tax equivalent to 15-25% of income.
While Senator Warren estimates the cost over a decade at $20 trillion in new federal spending – a cost the middle class is somehow to avoid – Estimates from six independent financial organizations put the figure in the $28-36 trillion range.
A Forbes article describes the tax increases aimed at wealthy individuals. Included are:
- Eliminating the favorable tax rate on capital gains
- Increasing the “Obamacare” tax from 3.8% to 14.8% on investment income over $250,000
- Eliminating the step-up in basis for inheritors
- Establishing a financial transaction tax of 0.10%
The capital gains tax increase, the step-up in basis, and the financial transaction tax will all affect middle class investors – potentially anyone with a 401(k) or an IRA. Rick Kahler points out that the American Retirement Association estimates that the financial transaction tax alone will cost the average 401(k) and IRA investor over $1,500 a year.
The 0.10% financial transaction tax, for example, would apply to all securities sold and purchased within a mutual fund or ETF, in addition to any purchases and sales of the funds themselves by investors. Mr. Kahler estimates these costs can run 0.20% to 0.30% a year to fund investors. When you consider some index funds charge only 0.10% in total expenses, the increase comes to 200% or more.
Eliminating the step-up in basis and the favorable capital gains treatment will certainly cost middle class investors more than a penny. A retiree leaving an heir $200,000 with $100,000 in cost basis, could easily cost the middle class inheritor $10,000 to $20,000 or more in taxes.
Candidates can promise – that doesn’t cost anything – but it’s the electorate who needs to do the math. After all, our elected representatives don’t live in the same health care world the rest of us do.
Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991. Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.