Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Helping or Hurting

A person loosely connected with our business brought up something yesterday.  They said that due to evolving tax laws and health care costs, this year our company would need to declare health care benefits for employees as income for them, potentially costing them additional taxes or decreased take-home pay.

My first response was that most of our employees would probably prefer health care, though the numbers still sounded scary.  Have to declare our healthcare deductions as income?  Potentially hundreds of dollars of "swing".

This morning, I woke at 4am, brain going overdrive and worrying.  Among the things I decided to do during the darkness of the "pre-morning" was research on this tax issue.  I put some combination of the words "health", "tax", and "benefits" into Google.  The return page was *crammed* with articles saying that -- despite spam emails indicating otherwise -- health care benefits are not taxable.  One of the article titles was even "No, health benefits aren't taxable".

One would think that would be enough for anybody.

I visited several, cross checked their references, and even found the portion of the current tax code that governs this area.  Health benefits are considered a fringe benefit, and some fringe benefits are taxable.  But health benefits are specifically on the TAX EXEMPT list.

And while employers will list our total health benefits on W-2 forms starting for tax year 2011, that's for informational purposes only and WILL NOT be taxable in almost all cases.  It's mainly to demonstrate that you have insurance ahead of the mandatory coverage in 2014 or so.

So I sent off an email to my boss and now I'm trying to get back to sleep.  I think it's really irksome that I (who don't have any training is business or tax law) should need to go around correcting the harmful misinformation spread by people who do business for a living and are much older and more experienced than I am.

If I ever start dressing in Spandex and calling myself "Factual Accuracy Man", I think I'm going to need to start charging for my services.

Because Spandex suits are expensive.

1 comment:

  1. One thing I'm discovering lately is just how much people are willing to believe without checking sources. Even with the people I work with - professors and other academics, who I thought would be all about checking sources to insure accurate information. It's pretty disheartening, but at the same time, I know I'll always have a leg up on them because of their laziness.