Other Qualified Adults

Governor Tim Kaine has proposed to extend the Virginia health care plan to include domestic partners and other qualified adults of state employees. One major reason for extending the health care plan is to attract highly qualified individuals to the Virginia job market, especially at the college/university level.

The highly qualified adults could include grown children, a domestic partner, parents-in-law, to name a few relationships. One qualifier would be that the person must live with the state employee. The cost would be picked up by the employee, not the state.

Opponents are already offering up a hue and cry over Gov. Kaine throwing a bone to the gays. Additionally the opponents have said it will cost the tax payer money. The employee would bear the cost. Still others feel that only married couples and their children should have the privilege of health care.

Many major companies coming in to the Old Dominion have offered similar type benefits to their employees. State officials feel that extending state benefits puts the state, as an employer, on a level playing field with other companies and agencies.

Would state employees be exempt from having to pay income tax on these benefits? Good for Virginia for seeing the need to incorporate as many into a health care program as possible. This is a positive step that costs the state nothing.

Death Panels and Death Taxes

The Tea Party-ers and other like minded folks have death on the brain it appears. Now there is great howling over the Inheritance Tax or ‘Death Tax’ that is racing through Congress. Today the house passed the Estate Tax Bill 225-220 with nearly all Republicans voting against the bill.

What does the Estate Tax do? The bill extends a 45% inheritance tax on estates larger than $3.5 million, and cancels a one-year repeal of the tax set to begin next month. $3.5 million seems like quite a lot money for someone to inherit tax free.

USA Today reports the reasoning:

“The bill passed by a 225-200 vote, with all Republicans opposed. Majority Democrats argued that a permanent tax rate makes it easier for families and small business owners to do estate planning, noting that fewer than 1% of all estates are subject to the tax.

In America, it’s not a sin to be rich nor is it a crime to die rich,” said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. “This bill gives our nation’s wealthiest families the ability to know exactly what their obligation to the nation that fostered their wealth will be, and it is fair and it is just.”

The bill follows the federal budget proposed by President Obama. But many Republicans called for permanent repeal of the estate tax, arguing it hurts families that pass down farms and small businesses to their children.

“The majority claims to be offering certainty to taxpayers and I suppose in a way they are — they are certainly repealing the hope of ever eliminating the death tax,” said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee

Those inheriting over 3.5 million dollars make up less than 1% of all estates. I hardly think that this ‘death’ tax will affect that many people. The middle class certainly won’t be affected by this new law. Yet those are the people I keep hearing talk about the death tax. Are they trying to impress the rest of us or do they just not know what they are talking about?

Time for the more affluent to pony up.  The rest of us are tired of doing it.  The Senate is deliberating similar legislation currently.  Why did that many Republicans vote against the bill?  Are they all that wealthy or are they protecting their future campaign contributions?  Do people who are that affluent know how to tax shelter their assets better than the middle class?