Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Seeking Shelter From New Health Care Tax

Many investors could be facing an unexpected extra tax. However, despite viral hoax emails to the contrary, it is not focused entirely on real estate transactions, in fact if you’re a real estate investor you’re probably in as a good a position as possible. Let’s examine:

The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 added IRC § 1411. Under this new regime, beginning in 2013 individuals with net investment income (interest, dividends, rental income etc...) and making over $200,000 and married couples making over $250,000 will face the specter of a 3.8% tax on the lesser of the amount their MAGI exceeds $200,000/$250,000 and their net investment income.

This new measure is an attempt to capture and subject the “unearned” income of the “wealthy” to the same Medicare payroll tax that earned income is.

If you’re a real estate investor you’re probably about as well positioned as you can be as stocks and bonds don’t provide nearly the sort of opportunities to shelter income that real estate does, mainly through depreciation expense.

Of note distributions from Pension Plans, 401K, 403B, and IRA’s are exempt from the tax. Also, for real estate investors who materially participate in their investments the ability to elect to become a Real Estate Professional and turn their passive income into earned income may present some planning opportunities.

Oh by the way, this tax is in addition to the more well known new “Hospital Insurance Tax” of 0.9% imposed on earned income in excess of the aforementioned MAGI thresholds. All in, these new taxes could amount to an almost 5% increase in taxes to the “wealthy”. I guess someone has to pay for healthcare reform though.....

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