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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan October 23, 2008

Extra taxes possible for high earners

A campaign mailer from the Republican Party of Florida attacked Barack Obama on the issue of the economy. We received the mailer on Oct. 22, 2008.

"How do Barack Obama's plans impact your budget?" reads the mailer.

"Will you count on Social Securty? Obama plan: Raise Social Security taxes."

Obama has floated proposals to raise Social Security taxes, but only on those who have incomes of about $250,000 a year and above.

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To be clear, when we talk about Social Security taxes, we're talking about payroll taxes paid by workers who have not yet retired ( not taxes on the benefits of retirees). Most workers currently pay 6.2 percent of their earnings in Social Security taxes, on earnings up to a limit of about $102,000 in 2008.

If you want to look at your own pay stub, the line that represents Social Security taxes is usually labeled FICA OASDI, which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance. Now you know.

The Social Security system is expected to need more money after the baby boomers retire. One of Obama's proposals to address problems with the program is to begin taxing benefits on higher incomes that are now exempt. He proposes to start taxing income of $250,000 and higher at a rate somewhere between 2 and 4 percent, and this includes an employer contribution, so the cost to the worker would likely be between 1 and 2 percent. By the way, people who make $250,000 or more make up roughly 3 percent of everyone who files taxes.

So Obama does propose raising Social Security taxes. But the raise would hit only a small portion of the population. We find the Republican Party of Florida's statement to be overly broad and rate it Half True.

Our Sources

Social Security, Contribution and Benefit Base

The Wall Street Journal, The Obama Tax Plan , op-ed by Obama advisers Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee, Aug. 14, 2008

Tax Policy Center TaxVox blog, Obama's empty Social Security fix , Aug. 14, 2008

Interview with Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center

Tax Policy Center, Options to Adjust Social Security Earnings Cap , Jan. 2, 2008

ABC News, Obama kisses billions goodbye , June 18, 2008

Tax Policy Center, 2008 Presidential candidates tax proposals

The Concord Coalition, Social Security

Barack Obama campaign Web site, Protect Social Security , accessed Oct. 23, 2008

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