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Client Letter: PPACA - Expanded Medicare Contribution Tax

Dear [client name]:

Beginning in 2013, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), an additional tax is imposed on income over a certain level in the case of an individual, estate, or trust. This tax is referred to as the "unearned income Medicare contribution tax." Others have referred to it as a tax on investment income, although it can apply to individuals, estates, and trusts that do not have investment income.

For an individual, the tax is 3.8 percent of the lesser of net investment income or the excess of modified adjusted gross income over a threshold amount. The threshold amount is $250,000 in the case of taxpayers filing a joint return or a surviving spouse, $125,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return, and $200,000 in any other case.

Modified adjusted gross income is adjusted gross income increased by any amount excluded from income as foreign earned income (net of the deductions and exclusions disallowed with respect to the foreign earned income).

The tax is subject to the individual estimated tax provisions and is not deductible in computing any income tax. Thus, for example, there is no deduction allowed for this tax when calculating the self-employment tax.

For purposes of the unearned income Medicare contribution tax, net investment income is investment income reduced by the deductions properly allocable to such income. Investment income is the sum of:

(1) gross income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents (other than income derived in the ordinary course of any trade or business to which the tax does not apply);

(2) other gross income derived from any trade or business to which the tax applies; and

(3) net gain (to the extent taken into account in computing taxable income) attributable to the disposition of property other than property held in a trade or business to which the tax does not apply.

Investment income does not include distributions from a qualified retirement plan or amounts subject to self-employment tax.

In the case of a trade or business, the tax applies if the trade or business is a passive activity with respect to the taxpayer, or the trade or business consists of trading financial instruments or commodities. The tax does not apply to other trades or businesses. Income, gain, or loss on working capital is not treated as derived from a trade or business.

Net investment income DOES NOT INCLUDE items that are excludible from gross income under the tax rules, such as interest on tax-exempt bonds, veterans' benefits, and any gain excludible from income when you sell a principal residence.

This law could affect you if you dispose of a partnership interest or stock in an S corporation. In such cases, gain or loss is taken into account to the extent gain or loss would be taken into account by a partner or shareholder if the entity had sold all its properties for fair market value immediately before the disposition.

In the case of an estate or trust, the tax is 3.8 percent of the lesser of undistributed net investment income or the excess of adjusted gross income over the dollar amount at which the highest income tax bracket applicable to an estate or trust begins.

The unearned income Medicare contribution tax does not apply to a nonresident alien; a trust, all the unexpired interests in which are devoted to charitable purposes; a trust that is exempt from tax under Code Sec. 501; or a charitable remainder trust exempt from tax.

If you believe you may owe this tax, we will need to prepare estimated taxes in order to avoid a penalty. Please call me at your convenience if you wish to discuss this further or have any other questions regarding health insurance.


[Your Name, Your Firm]

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*CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: Pursuant to Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, any tax advice contained herein is not intended or written to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.

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