Critical Condition

Taxing the Sick and Elderly

Sen. Orrin Hatch in the Washington Times:

I was dismayed when an already bad health care reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee was made worse by the addition last week of a new tax increase that would largely hit the sick and the elderly.

The proposal, added as part of a last-minute package of modifications to Chairman Max Baucus’ bill, would increase the threshold for deducting medical expenses from today’s level of 7.5 percent of income to 10 percent. This seemingly small change is projected by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation to cost taxpayers over $4 billion per year. . . .

The current tax law rightly says that if a family has to pay catastrophic or near-catastrophic amounts for health care during the year, relief is available. By design, this deduction is there only for those who really need it, such as the chronically sick and the elderly.

Seniors in America would be hit very hard by this tax increase. Statistics provided by the Joint Committee on Taxation show that in 2019, 54 percent of the $4.1 billion in extra taxes paid from this change would be assessed on those age 65 and older.

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