By Gerri Willis
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2014 promises to be a busy year for news that hits your wallet. The biggest consumer story this year – the rollout of Obamacare – has legs. Glitches, problems and out-right failures on the website have persisted. And, that means the government has had to delay deadlines for signup. Previously, Health and Human Services delayed the deadline for enrolling in coverage that starts Jan. 1 from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23. But now the agency has also made it clear that not only will shoppers have until Dec. 31 to pay their first month’s premium, they are also encouraging insurers to allow people who sign up after the Dec. 23 deadline to start coverage as of Jan. 1. What’s more, the Obama administration is also extending coverage under the health care law’s state high-risk pool to the end of the year. That program covers about 84,000 people.
One way to find out what you might pay for Obamacare coverage and what sorts of subsidies you might be eligible for is to go to www.kff.org, where you can get details on coverage and costs.
Watch for more difficulties with the Obamacare program to emerge in the coming months. Health care experts say that the coverage of people under corporate plans will likely change late next year as companies get ready for more changes under Obamacare. Taxes on so-called Cadillac plans will likely result in higher costs for workers and less extensive coverage. We may see even more companies opt to put employees into part-time roles to get around Obamacare requirements.
Another big story that will play out next year, are tax changes. High earners and people with large portfolios will find their taxes rising dramatically next year. Experts say that high earners will find their taxes tipping 50 percent of their earnings in many parts of the country, not just the big cities on the coasts. If you earn more than $200,000 filing singly or $250,000 married, filing jointly, you’ll pay a new additional tax on earned income of 0.9 percent. If you earn above $400,000 as a single filer or $450,000 married filing jointly, you’ll find yourself subject to a new income tax bracket of 39.6 percent. A new Medicare tax on investment income of 3.8 percent will also sting investors.
Cherished deductions, like mortgage interest, state income and sales taxes and home office deductions, are on phase-out schedules for high earners. We’ll also be keeping an eye on housing to determine whether rising mortgage rates puts the housing recovery on hold or simply fires up eager buyers.
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In short, next year is shaping up as a complicated one for consumers and The Willis Report will be there every step of the way to help you figure out how you can negotiate these changes that impact your wallet.