NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Were you uninsured in 2014? It’s time to pay the piper!
Some 3 million to 6 million Americans will have to pay an Obamacare tax penalty for not having health insurance last year, Treasury officials said Wednesday. It’s the first time they have given estimates for how many people will be subject to a fine.
The penalty is $95, or 1% of income above a certain threshold (roughly $20,000 for a couple). So you could end up owing the IRS a lot of money.
Take a married couple with $100,000 in income – their bill comes to $797, according to the Tax Policy Center ACA penalty calculator.
The penalty for remaining uninsured rises to the larger of $325 or 2% of income in 2015.
As millions of Americans sit down in coming weeks to compile their tax returns, they’ll have to contend with Obamacare’s health insurance mandate for the first time.
Some three-quarters of the nation’s 150 million taxpayers have health insurance through their jobs or government programs and will simply have to check a box on the Form 1040.
Another 15 million to 30 million people will request and be granted an exemption to the mandate by filing Form 8965. Those who aren’t subject to the insurance requirement include undocumented immigrants, low-income Americans and those for whom insurance premiums were more than 8% of their household income.
Finally, between 4.5 million and 7.5 million taxpayers received subsidies for insurance premiums when they signed up for coverage on Obamacare exchanges. They will have to use Form 8962 to reconcile their actual 2014 income with the amount they estimated when they applied for a policy in late 2013 or early 2014.
Those who underestimated their income either will receive smaller tax refunds or will owe the IRS money.
Treasury officials declined to forecast how many people may be in this situation. But H&R Block projects 3.4 million taxpayers will have to pay back part of their premiums.
Of course, those who overestimated their 2014 income may get a healthier-than-expected refund. And some will see no change.
The contact group of BRICS experts will meet in March to discuss the idea of establishing an independent rating agency, said Brazilian Ambassador to Russia Jose Vallim Antonio Guerreiro. The agency would become an alternative to the western ‘big three’.
“A contact group on economic and trade issues is working at the expert level. The proposal to establish a rating agency within the BRICS has been placed before its consideration, and will be discussed in more detail in March at the next meeting of the contact group,” the diplomat said in an interview to RIA Wednesday.
Guerreiro said it’s early to predict the outcome of the meeting, as every decision should be weighed carefully. Still, in his view “such a possibility exists.” The question is how the procedures of existing rating agencies can be applicable to all economies, he said.
“The question is whether this procedure includes all the relevant factors. You may need to look for alternative indicators and broad approaches to assess the ‘health’ of economies,” he said. “I do not believe that the new agency will be something to resist the existing institutions. They do their job, and certainly, there is a demand for their services. But it is possible that the BRICS countries will elaborate a different approach.”
International rating agency S&P on Monday downgraded the sovereign credit rating of Russia below the investment rate to BB + with a negative outlook, saying Russian monetary policy became less flexible, and left open the possibility of further deterioration.
Earlier S&P downgraded the credit rating of Brazil from BBB to BBB-, leaving it a notch above the ‘junk’ grade.
The idea of creating an alternative to the western rating agencies becomes more relevant. Earlier in January Russia and China announced establishing a joint rating agency which, both countries believe, will balance the global economic outlook.
Rating agencies Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s announced a negative macroeconomic outlook for Mercosur in 2015. The common market of the South America includes Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Venezuela.
In light of nuclear negotiations with Iran, the general conflagration in the Middle East, Russia’s march and a whole host of other chaotic situations worldwide, recently we sat down with an expert on national security, foreign policy and in particular nuclear proliferation, John Wohlstetter, to discuss the gravest threats to the American homeland.
Wohlstetter, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and London Center for Policy Research, two conservative think tanks, recently released an updated edition of his book on this very topic, “Sleepwalking With the Bomb,” and delivered a speech earlier in January titled “Rethinking the Unthinkable Why Failures of Imagination, Projection, and Strategy Court Nuclear Catastrophe” that piqued our interest.
During our interview with Wohlstetter, we had the chance to ask a very basic set of questions about what is potentially the most devastating of all weapons that could be launched at the market homeland: Electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Wohlstetter’s five minute primer, which you can find below, covers (i) What exactly an EMP is, (ii) How much damage it could cause in a worst case scenario and (iii) How an EMP attack might transpire:
What would the doomsday scenario of an EMP attack against an America whose infrastructure is not currently protected look like?
In a worst case scenario the detonation would be over Dorothy’s Kansas, in the center of the country. And at 300 miles altitude, you would have a circle, 360 degrees, with a radius of 1,470 miles…that covers the continental United States lower 48 states.
And in a worst case, you could see within a year 90% of the population die, as you don’t have electric power, nothing works, you can’t even get food to market. It would be catastrophic beyond belief.
And if you do it over the Eastern seaboard, you could center an explosion at a lower altitude, say 20-30 miles up over Pennsylvania. And you would cover about, if you centered it there…375 miles…And what you would do with that is take down the Eastern interconnection which supplies 70% of the country’s electric power.
Given that our infrastructure is not protected against this attack today — an infrastructure that Wohlstetter argues could be hardened for a figure of around $10 billion — are there at least contingency plans in place?
If the Congressional panel that looked at it was correct, in a worst case…you could see 90 percent or 100 percent of the network taken out. And if that happens, you can’t recover. It’s not like out of a disaster like a hurricane where you have edge recovery — communities that bring in supplies, rebuild for you, house people who have been displaced as happened after Katrina for example. You don’t have that edge recovery. In the case of the network, there are some transformers in big systems that take several years when you order them to bring them in and put them online. And…at least on what is know publicly, we do not have an adequate supply [of them]. [Link ours]
During the interview, which you can find below, we also had the chance to discuss several other critical topics including:
The biggest threat to American national security today
Why the nature of the threat of a nuclear weapon is far more worrying today than during the Cold War
The knock-on effects of a nuclear Iran
The strength (or lack thereof) of America’s missile defense system
How an EMP could be launched above the U.S.
Why the concept of mirror imaging is essential to understanding America’s foreign policy failures
And much more
Rethinking the Unthinkable Why Failures of Imagination Projection and Strategy Court Nuclear Catastrophe by…