The Buzz: News of Interest



The Internal Revenue Service has released new rules for investment income taxes on capital gains and dividends earned by high-income individuals as part of the healthcare reform law.  The 3.8 percent surtax on investment income goes into effect in 2013. however, before making the rules final, the IRS will take public comments and hold hearings in April. The tax applies to a broad range of investment securities ranging from stocks and bonds to commodity securities and specialized derivatives. The tax affects only individuals with more than $200,000 in modified adjusted gross income, and married couples filing jointly with more than $250,000.  The taxes are estimated to raise $317.7 billion over 10 years.  If a taxpayer files as a single individual who makes $180,000 in wage income plus $90,000 from investment income, the modified adjusted gross income would be $270,000.  The 3.8 percent tax applies to the $70,000--$2,660 in surtaxes would then be paid.  




More Americans used food stamps to buy their Thanksgiving dinner last year than ever before.  A person on food stamps has a budget of about $1.25 per meal.  During fiscal year 2012 the U. S. government spent a record $80.4 billion on food stamps, a $2.7 billion increase from FY 2011.




An upcoming study from the National Academy of Public Administration will examine the benefits of partially privatizing the financially ailing U. S. Postal Service, which lost $16 billion dollars in fiscal year 2012 alone.  The study will look into allowing private companies to deliver parcels up until the "last delivery mile."  A Postal Service letter carrier would still be responsible for that last mile, physically delivering letters and packages to their recipients. The study is being underwritten by Connecticut-based firm Pitney Bowes, which already contracts with the Postal Service for portions of its operations, and could stand to benefit from the agency's further privatization.




The Transportation Security Administration agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to probe the health effects of radiation from imaging machines used at airports.  Passengers and some scientific experts have raised questions about the impact of repeated exposure to this radiation.   It was reported a year ago that as many as 100 air travelers each year could get cancer from the machines.  Detailed images they display could also carry privacy risks.