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Obamacare’s ‘Cool Calculator,’ Part 2: The ‘Wedding Tax’: You're better off shacking up or divorced
Pajamas Media ^ | 09/25/2013 | Tom Blumber

Posted on 09/25/2013 9:27:08 AM PDT by SeekAndFind


In a September 13 email, Erin Hannigan of Organizing for Action’s “Truth Team” bragged about a “cool calculator from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation” showing how Obamacare’s “tax credits” work, and encouraged everyone to “share it on Facebook or Twitter.”

Obamacare’s opponents, especially those who advocate defunding it before it goes live, need to follow Hannigan’s suggestion, and even embed it on their websites and blogs. That’s because what Kaiser’s “cool calculator” really does is expose the statist health care regime’s three ugliest financial elements.

I covered two of them in my previous PJM column. The first is that, when combined with Uncle Sam’s current income and payroll tax regimes, the gradual expiration as income increases of Obamacare’s “tax credits” — which Kaiser’s model schizophrenically describes as “government tax credit subsidies” — will raise the portion of income taken by the government for each additional dollar of earnings to between one-third and one-half, effectively taxing most American workers at marginal rates usually limited to the planet’s highest income earners. The second is that its subsidy “cliffs” will cause middle-aged single people and married couples making as little as $45,960 and $62,040, respectively, to lose over $10,000 in subsidies — or “tax credits,” in the preferred language of OFA and the U.S. Supreme Court’s — when they earn just one additional dollar. These bugs, which jubilant “progressives” as seen above apparently believe are features, will crush incentives to work and to otherwise pursue financial self-improvement.

The third tragic outcome of Obamacare is what it will do to marriages and families. In January 2010, two months before Obamacare’s passage, the estimable Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation gave the impact a name: the “wedding tax.”

To illustrate, let’s start with the 60-year-old married couple with no children whose situation I illustrated at the end of Part 1:


If they have identical earnings totaling $65,000, which will usually net down to $50,000 or below after all income and payroll taxes, their Obamacare exchange Silver Plan premium next year with the same earnings will be $16,382, or about one-third of what used to be their take-home pay. (And they call it the “Affordable Care Act”?)

What can this couple do? Well, they could decide to earn a few thousand dollars less, which will negate the five-figure premium hit. Encouraging ordinarily willing workers to put in less effort isn’t good in any economy, but especially not this one. But if either spouse’s earnings are unpredictable or hard to precisely track, they could still “mess up” and get socked with a premium they can’t afford.

The “easiest” solution would be to avoid the “wedding tax” entirely by getting divorced while still living together. Here’s what would happen if they make that choice:


Instead of facing an exorbitant premium increase once their combined earnings hits $62,041 if they were to stay married, each cohabiting adult can earn up to $45,960 before Obamacare’s “tax credit”-free premiums kick in. Their annual after-tax savings at age 60 if they shack up and keep their individual earnings between $31,021 and $45,960 will range from $7,650 to over $11,000. The annual savings will slightly increase every year until Medicare kicks in at age 65. That kind of money can buy a lot of gifts for the grandkids.

But the grandkids will also face the prospect of seeing their moms and dads divorce because of Obamacare.

Let’s look at the situation of a 40-year-old couple with two children. The spouses’ annual earnings are $70,000 and $23,000, respectively:


The couple’s annual unsubsidized premium while married is $11,547 (OFA’s vaunted “tax credits” disappear at $92,401 for married couples with two children). But if they divorce and shack up while giving custody of both children to the lower-earning spouse, their combined annual premiums, at $4,317, will be over $7,200 lower. That’s over $600 a month. As was the case in the previous example, the savings from divorce will gradually increase every year. Parents will be torn between doing what Western civilization has considered morally right for millennia and their children’s financial well-being as never before.


There may be contrary examples, but in all of my research into the inner workings of Obamacare as embodied in Kaiser’s model, I was unable to find a single instance where staying married led to a lower net healthcare premium compared to divorcing and living together. Clearly, many couples who are considering marriage, especially after several years of seeing formerly married couples regress to cohabiting, will look at Obamacare’s “wedding tax” and say, “Never mind.” The effect on society will be incalculable, and certainly not for the good.

As designed, Obamacare threatens to turn cohabiting while functionally living as if married into a national sport. Paraphrasing what I noted at my home blog in March 2010, the following grim scenario appears likely:

The law in many if not most states says that you can’t cohabit indefinitely and still claim not to be married.

Because the government will be starved for money, the Internal Revenue Service will task itself with finding cohabiting couples and divorced couples still living together who are “illegally” claiming that they are not married for health care subsidy purposes.

Those caught and punished by the IRS carrying out its new role as the de facto “marriage police” could get hit with multi-year bills for undeserved “tax credits” running into tens of thousands of dollars.

16,500 new IRS agents won’t be anywhere near the number needed to enforce the Obamacare regime.

Open question: What kind of advice will the program’s navigators give to couples in sticker shock over their Obamacare exchange premiums? Will they counsel divorce, or will doing so be considered aiding and abetting tax evasion?

I find it utterly amazing and more than a little disheartening that the arguments made by Rector and yours truly for so long have gained so little traction, even among Obamacare’s most ardent opponents. Principled conservatives with bigger megaphones should not have waited this long to make these critical financial and family values arguments. But here we are, and we’re running out of time.

It’s likely that Obamacare’s implementation, no matter how expensive, incompetent, riddled with fraud and cronyism, compromised by privacy invasions and identity thefts, and disrespectful of Americans’ religious consciences it turns out to be, will be irreversible. To my knowledge, no other major entitlement program in U.S. history, no matter how unworthy or fiscally ruinous, has ever been fully repealed once it began — which is why Obamacare cannot be allowed to take effect.

If the results presented in this and the previous column aren’t enough to persuade Republicans and conservatives that it’s “now or never” time to defund this madness, what ever will be?

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: marriage; marriagetax; obamacare; penalty; tax; taxes; weddingtax
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To: Beagle8U

I didn’t know that. I thought tobacco smokers were the only ones being discriminated against.

21 posted on 09/25/2013 10:46:53 AM PDT by Rusty0604
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To: SeekAndFind

DH says we should have divorced before our kids went to college — we would have received HUGE breaks on tuition on what we make individually and if one of us had legal custody. Salaries combined, we were hit full force.

We both have private insurance through our employers and have “been assured” (HA) that nothing will change. Neither my insurance nor his now covers the other, as it was before obamacare.

Maybe it IS time to draw up the divorce papers!!

22 posted on 09/25/2013 10:51:24 AM PDT by Bon of Babble (Didn't make it to the gym today. That makes 5 years in a row.)
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To: varyouga

It will only be ‘affordable’ to the 30 million new leeches that will get it free or close to free.

The cost of that will be paid by the middle class that already were covered.

“To the leeches according to their wants/votes, from the middle class according to their inability to hide their income.” - Karl Marx O’bastard.

23 posted on 09/25/2013 10:54:02 AM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: Bon of Babble

We actually had an elderly couple come into our office who had been married for years and years file for divorce because they were better off divorced financially than married. She was devastated and he sat there patting her hand.

24 posted on 09/25/2013 10:56:57 AM PDT by TightyRighty (I enjoy well-mannered frivolity.)
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To: Rusty0604

Go to one of the exchange sites and punch in some figures and medical conditions.

25 posted on 09/25/2013 10:59:09 AM PDT by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: Rusty0604
So legalizing gay marriage was just a sinister plot to tax them more?/sarc

Unintended Consequences 'n all that! ROFL!!

In reality, the homo's expected to get all the "benefits" without having to pay the taxes? ROFL!! SUCKERS!!!!!

26 posted on 09/25/2013 10:59:21 AM PDT by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: Rusty0604

“I wonder if that is explicitly for tobacco?”

The Subsidy Calculator only mentions tobacco, not cannabis, DMT or crack.

27 posted on 09/25/2013 11:05:43 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: TightyRighty
We actually had an elderly couple come into our office who had been married for years and years file for divorce because they were better off divorced financially than married. She was devastated and he sat there patting her hand.

My wife and I talk about this repeatedly: getting divorced but staying together after our sons are grown up and out of the house because we think we'll be better off financially. The reality after we examined it under our circumstances is that it makes no difference tax-wise while we're both alive, and hurts her financially once I'm dead. (Given my health, I expect her to far outlive me.)

Divorcing only works if both the husband and wife are still working and expect to work another 10 years or so, and they combined make more than $65k. In this case, they avoid the following tax penalties:

- Obamacare tax penalty;
- Marriage tax penalty

the above penalties are of course off-set by the husband and wife having fewer tax deductions (one cannot claim the other as a dependent) and having higher income tax withholding from their paychecks. Again depending on their circumstances, each will likely get much of those taxes back at end of year AND qualify for healthcare "subsidies."

Assuming the husband has had higher wages during the course of his life, when he dies the wife will not have the option of taking his social security monthly payment over hers. By law and because they're divorced, she'll automatically be "stuck" with her social security benefit only.

There are also estate issues when the husband dies that should a trust not be setup with her the named beneficiary, the estate would automatically then go into probate with the State getting a chunk of the estates value via probate court costs. This would also put the wife in a bad position in keeping the family home, etc..

In my and my wife's case, I'm the sole breadwinner in the family. Were we to get divorced but "stay together" we'd actually get financially impacted harder than we already are, that is unless she agreed to go on Obamacare and forego alimony in the deal. The only way we "win" in this case is if I have my salary cut down to below $65k -- which financially speaking for me is financial suicide.

My and my wife's only way "out" of paying the Obamacare tax in this case is for me to flat out quit my job and live off my savings until retirement - which I can easily do. Our plan is to sell everything once the kids are done with high school, I'll quit my job and we'll move to a low-tax state where I'll either stay retired, or make just enough to cover our monthly expenses. The side benefit to our plan is that then my two sons would qualify for grants, financial assistance, etc.. to go to college -- which they would not be able to -- should I keep working. I make too much and all these rip-off colleges would charge me full-boat for both of 'em.

Screw that, I'm out to protect myself financially and screw the system in return for all the screwing it's given me my adult working life!

28 posted on 09/25/2013 11:12:28 AM PDT by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: usconservative
If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more.

Benefits paid to you as a surviving divorced spouse who meets the age or disability requirement as a widow or widower won't affect the benefit rates for other survivors getting benefits on the worker's record.

29 posted on 09/25/2013 11:41:30 AM PDT by Excellence (All your database are belong to us.)
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To: Rusty0604

Why the sarc? It’s perfectly reasonable for a politician to quietly design a tax that will affect a group clamoring for an issue only if that group gets their issue.

Once the group gets what it wants, it is now beholden to the politicians who championed their cause. Those politicians want things in return. Sometimes the contstituents know what that thing is, sometimes they find out later.

I would assume that an actuarial or accountant would have informed the designers of the plan that the more married people the more tax revenue would be receive. If the base is enlarged, the system will be “better” funded.

30 posted on 09/25/2013 11:46:36 AM PDT by cizinec ("Brother, your best friend ain't your Momma, it's the Field Artillery.")
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To: grundle

In a country where I don’t have the freedom to buy light bulbs of my choosing, I am free to divorce my wife. We will then get a lower health tax premium, she can also go on welfare and the government will “take care” of her for the rest of her days. I can then (in RI) marry a 16 year old boy to “take care” of me for the rest of my days. And since I don’t really want a boy around we can then have him surgically changed into a female on the public dole. Is this a great country? or what?

31 posted on 09/25/2013 11:56:38 AM PDT by The Public Eye
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To: cizinec

That’s right, for a politician it’s almost always about the money.

32 posted on 09/25/2013 11:56:55 AM PDT by Rusty0604
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To: The Public Eye

And you can sue any business that doesn’t want to cater your wedding to the 16yo boy.

33 posted on 09/25/2013 11:59:04 AM PDT by Rusty0604
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To: SeekAndFind

Has anyone on the floor made these specific arguments, or in factual handouts to constituents?

34 posted on 09/25/2013 12:13:34 PM PDT by kenavi (Debunk THIS!)
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To: tanknetter
I really can't see that many gays "marrying"...think of pension rights, military pensions in particular, think of divorce,community property,etc...

hell, even heteros aren't "marrying" anymore....

35 posted on 09/25/2013 12:50:55 PM PDT by cherry
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To: Beagle8U
the leeches have been using ER's and clinics and then hospitals for a long time, for free.....the law demands that hospitals treat and take in anyone who comes to the ER.....

so we get a lot of drug addicts who have horrible infections where they use their skin for needle sticks, often having to have expensive intravenous lines placed, and on expensive IV antibiotics for several weeks.....all being paid for by you and me....the hospital does not get paid....

and alcholics....repeat pancreatitis....

all I can say is if you can get off the tax grid, do it....either by retiring or working less.....anything to make your tax burden less....

also.....stay healthy....a lot of things you can take care of at home...flu...colds....sore joints...etc..

36 posted on 09/25/2013 12:57:02 PM PDT by cherry
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To: Excellence
If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more.

I did not know that. Doesn't change our circumstances from a taxable income perspective though as I've been the sole breadwinner all these years now ...

37 posted on 09/25/2013 12:57:13 PM PDT by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: SeekAndFind

I remember putting some spreadsheets together when the numbers came out quite awhile ago, and was amazed that the “marginal obamacare and income tax rate” exceeded 100% in these income brackets. How ANYBODY can justify this is amazing.... It is not like a married couple each making 35-40,000 dollars per year are rich, but I guess that they are in obamaville....

38 posted on 09/25/2013 1:16:40 PM PDT by machman
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To: Prince of Space

Ask your nearest friendly senator...

39 posted on 09/25/2013 1:37:49 PM PDT by butterdezillion (,)
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To: Buckeye McFrog

The communist goals have always been to break up families. Families are competition; as long as families are intact and capable of providing for themselves there will be no outcry for government to be their provider.

That’s why the communist-sympathizing organizations are always big on pornography, atheism, sex outside of marriage, abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, divorce, drugs and alcohol, gambling, etc. Where those things abound, families are hurt and it helps communists create an inverted triangle, where the needy/takers far outnumber the self-sufficient/givers and topple the whole model of families providing for their own, under the burden of families providing for everybody else who blew their chances at a functioning, self-sustaining family because of bad choices.

This isn’t to say that everybody who is in need is in need because of their own bad choices. My sister-in-law is in dire financial need after her husband’s abuse largely due to porn addiction. She didn’t ask for that. But those who push porn succeeded in creating another family which cannot support itself. Obamacare doubly hurts because she can’t find a job.

40 posted on 09/25/2013 1:46:33 PM PDT by butterdezillion (,)
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