During the Oct. 3, 2008 vice-presidential debate, in front of 70 million viewers, then-candidate Joe Biden made a promise to the American people:

 “No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama’s plan will see one single penny of their tax raised whether it’s their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax. [Transcript]

Biden’s promise echoed that of then-candidate Barack Obama.  Speaking in Dover, New Hampshire on Sept. 12, 2008, Obama said:

“I can make a firm pledge.  Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.  Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”  [Video]

The Obama-Biden promise was shattered when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.  Obamacare contains at least seven direct tax hikes that unquestionably violate the Obama-Biden pledge. The five worst are described below:

1. The Obamacare Individual Mandate Non-Compliance Tax:

Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services — must pay an income surtax to the IRS. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that six million American families will be liable for the tax, and as pointed out by the Associated Press:  “Most would be in the middle class.”

In addition, 100 percent of Americans filing a tax return (140 million filers) will be forced to submit paperwork to the IRS showing they either had “qualifying” health insurance for every month of the tax year or they obtained an exemption to the mandate.

Americans liable for the surtax will pay according to the following schedule:


1 Adult

2 Adults

3+ Adults


1% AGI/$95

1% AGI/$190

1% AGI/$285


2% AGI/$325

2% AGI/$650

2% AGI/$975

2016 +

2.5% AGI/$695

2.5% AGI/$1390

2.5% AGI/$2085


2. The Obamacare Tax on Union Member and Early Retiree Health Insurance Plans:

Obamacare imposes a new 40 percent excise tax on high cost or “Cadillac” health insurance plans, effective in 2018. This tax increase will most directly affect union families and early retirees, who are likely to be covered by such plans.  This Obamacare tax will be levied on insurance policies whose premiums exceed $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family.  Middle class union members tend to be covered by such plans in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

3. The Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Tax – a.k.a. “Special Needs Kids Tax”:

The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will, starting in 2013, face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set their own cap). 

There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are several million middle class families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use pre-tax FSA dollars to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This $13 billion Obamacare tax hike will severely limit the options available to these families

4. The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax: 

This $20 billion Obamacare tax increase prevents Americans from being able to use their pre-tax health accounts to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. 

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 11 percent of Americans who receive health insurance from their workplace are enrolled in a Health Savings Account qualifying health insurance plan.  This amounts to an estimated 16 million covered lives.

Using data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, it is estimated that 30-35 million Americans take advantage of FSAs at work.

The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet tax prevents these tens of millions of middle class families from being able to purchase everyday medicines using these accounts. Examples of items no longer able to be purchased with pre-tax dollars without a prescription include pain relievers, cold and flu medicines, antacids, nasal sprays, and children’s vitamins.

5. The Obamacare High Medical Bills Tax:

Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  Beginning in 2013, this $15 billion tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans.  This tax provision will most harm near retirees and middle class families with modest incomes but high medical bills.