Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan May 17, 2012

Crossroads GPS says the health care law raises taxes 18 times on people making less than $250,000

The conservative advocacy group Crossroads GPS has a new ad that says President Barack Obama has broken his campaign promises.

The ad says, "President Obama’s agenda promised so much," then recounts several areas where it says Obama broke his promises.

One those points is about taxes. The ad shows video of Obama saying, "If you are a family making less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes go up."

The ad’s narrator says, "Broken: Obamacare raises 18 different taxes. … We need solutions, not just promises." The text on the screen says, "$503 billion between 2010 and 2019."

We’ll be fact-checking the ad’s other claims in separate reports. Here, we’ll look at what the ad says about taxes.

We should note that here at PolitiFact, we consider ourselves experts on the president’s campaign promises. Our Obameter tracks more than 500 campaign promises Obama made during the 2008 campaign, including many promises about taxes.

The health care law and taxes

The ad makes a sweeping claim about taxes that suggests broad increases. It says that the health care law raised 18 different taxes, citing an analysis from the Heritage Foundation.

We know from our previous research on the law that it does in fact raise taxes. But when we looked at the issue in January 2011, we found only 13 measures that could reasonably be considered tax increases. (The other items were mostly new regulations.)

Many of those taxes are aimed at health insurance companies, drug manufacturers, medical device makers or high earners, not people who make less than $250,000, as the ad says. (See our detailed list of taxes in the health care law.)

When we looked at the list with the Crossroads statement in mind, we found only five taxes that might apply to individuals making less than $250,000.

Those taxes include the following:

• Higher federal excise taxes on tobacco.
• A 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning services.
• Limiting the amount taxpayers can deposit in flexible spending accounts to $2,500 a year. For people who use the accounts, this could increase their taxable income. This takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
• Raising the 7.5 percent adjusted gross income floor for the medical expenses deduction to 10 percent. People who would have qualified for the deduction this year would pay more. This takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.   
• A 40 percent excise tax on employer-provided "Cadillac" health insurance plans costing more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. This takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.

There’s one other thing that may or may not be a tax, and it’s a biggie: the individual mandate. The mandate means that everyone has to have health insurance or pay a penalty; the Supreme Court is currently considering whether it's constitutional -- and whether it's a tax. We won’t take a side on this question here.

The tax increases on tobacco and tanning services prompted us to give Obama a Promise Broken on our Obameter for his pledge that "no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase."

But the statement from Crossroads is different. It makes the sweeping claim that the health care law raises 18 taxes on people who make less than $250,000 when in fact many of the taxes are on corporations and health care companies. Only a few of them are on individuals in that income range.

Obama’s tax cuts for workers

On the other side of the equation, though, Obama has cut taxes for many people of modest means.

Obama pushed for small tax credits in the economic stimulus of 2009. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit amounted to about $400 per worker per year for two years.

Then, in 2010, Obama hammered out a deal with Republicans for lower payroll taxes. That lowered them by 2 percent; with a maximum tax break of about $2,202 per year.

Those tax cuts apply to all workers, while the health care tax hikes apply to more limited groups, such as smokers and indoor tanners.

Our ruling

The Crossroads ad says Obama "promised" families making less than $250,000 a year would not see taxes go up, but "Obamacare raises 18 different taxes."

Obama has increased a few taxes -- on tobacco and tanning -- that hit people making less than $250,000. But he also gets credit for tax breaks for workers, most notably a payroll tax holiday that is still in effect.

The Crossroads ad wrongly implies that people of modest means are getting hit with 18 tax increases because of the health care law. In fact, most of the taxes in the health care law are on high-income individuals or the health care industry. We rate their statement Mostly False.  

Featured Fact-check

PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election. View the video version of this fact-check.

Our Sources

Crossroads GPS, Obama’s promises, May 16, 2012

The Heritage Foundation, Obamacare and New Taxes: Destroying Jobs and the Economy, Jan. 20, 2011

PolitiFact, Mitt Romney says Barack Obama has raised taxes 19 times, Jan. 11, 2012

The Obameter, No family making less than $250,000 will see "any form of tax increase," last updated April 8, 2010

The Obameter, Create a tax credit of $500 for workers, last updated Jan. 4, 2011

Kaiser Family Foundation, "Summary of New Health Reform Law," accessed Jan. 9, 2012
Kaiser Health News, "House Rules Committee's Analysis Of The Health Bill," March 18, 2010

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Angie Drobnic Holan

Crossroads GPS says the health care law raises taxes 18 times on people making less than $250,000

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up