Surreptitious notice to residents
On Tuesday, July 10, at 5 p.m. I attended a Planning and Zoning meeting that I learned about at 4 p.m.
The citizens of Winter Park were surreptitiously noticed about this meeting that was rescheduled both with regard to date and time. During the meeting very important changes for the south block of Park Avenue, from Comstock to Fairbanks, were approved by the Planning and Zoning Board. This legislation allows offices, beauty salons and real estate companies, etc., to occupy space on the street level. Currently the only businesses of these types allowed on the first floor of Park Avenue buildings are those that have been grandfathered. This was to create and maintain a retail shopping and fine dining district.
Were property owners on the remainder of Park Avenue informed about this meeting?
How do those who in recent years have had these same requests denied because of current codes feel about this? How do citizens feel about this?
I am opposed to code changes for something this significant without widespread citizen notification. If you feel it is important to weigh in on this issue, come to the City Commission meeting on July 23, where it will be presented for approval.
New taxes under the health care act
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28 that President Obama’s health care law is constitutional. The main issue before the Court was whether or not the government could force individuals to purchase health insurance. Chief Justice John Roberts said the insurance mandate could survive as a tax. Justice Roberts said nothing in the Constitution guarantees that individuals may avoid taxation by inactivity.
Assuming the law is not repealed through the legislative process, American citizens now may face new or increased taxes in the near future. The following is a list of the major tax provisions created under the Act. Let’s begin with probably the most controversial and broad sweeping:
• Individual Mandate Tax (Penalty) - Beginning January 2014, non-exempt U.S. citizens and legal residents are required to have health insurance. Individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential coverage are subject to penalties dictated in the table below.
The threshold amount is the amount of income required to file an income tax return. For example, in 2012, the filing threshold is $9,750 for a single person and $19,500 for a married couple filing jointly. Individuals with income below the filing threshold are exempt from the penalty.
• Increase Medicare Payroll Tax - Starting in 2013, the Medicare portion of the payroll tax increases from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent for couples earning more than $250,000 a year ($200,000 for single filers).
This additional tax, subject to employees only, will effectively raise the rate on wages over the relevant thresholds mentioned above from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent. Although the tax will not apply to the employer portion, employers do have a withholding obligation and are liable for the tax if they fail to withhold the tax from employees.
• Medicare Tax on Net Investment Income - Beginning in 2013, a Medicare tax will, for the first time, be applied to investment income. A new 3.8 percent tax will be imposed on net investment income of single taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) above $200,000 and joint filers with AGI over $250,000.
Net investment income is interest, dividends, royalties, rents, gross income from a trade or business involving passive activities, and net gain from disposition of property (other than property held in a trade or business). If capital gains on a primary home sale exceed $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for married couples, and the income threshold is met, the excess realized gain is subject to the 3.8 percent tax.
However, the new tax will not apply to income in tax-deferred retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans or interest on tax-exempt bonds.
• The Healthcare Flexible Spending Account Cap - Starting in 2013, employees will face a $2,500 cap on the amount of pre-tax salary deferrals they can make into a health care flexible spending account. There is no cap under current law.
• The Medical Itemized Deduction Hurdle - Also starting in 2013, taxpayers who face high medical expenses will only be allowed a deduction for expenses to the extent they exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income, up from 7.5 percent now. Taxpayers 65 and older can still use the old 7.5 percent threshold through 2016.
• Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans – Also known as the tax on “Cadillac” Health Insurance Plans. These are plans that provide extensive coverage and are generally fully or mostly paid for by employers. Beginning in 2018, this provision imposes a new 40 percent excise tax on the employer-paid premiums for taxpayers who are covered by such plans.
As we can see from the above, The Affordable Care Act imposes new or increased taxes on some, but it will certainly increase the complexity of our tax system for most.
— Ron Tamayo
Founder and partner
Maitland-based Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo LLC