Entries in Taxes (6)


Cigarette Tax Hike Leads to Historic Drop in Smoking

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A federal tobacco tax hike signed by President Obama just days after he took office in 2009 has resulted in a historic drop in cigarette smokers, according to new analysis by USA Today.

The newspaper, citing surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports that about three million less people smoked last year than in 2009.  The decrease was largely due to the overnight 22 percent price increase in cigarettes in April of that year.

On April 1, 2009, the cigarette tax leaped from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack.  The hike was made to help fund expanded health care for children.

Tax records show the change has raised more than $30 billion in new revenue, USA Today reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fatal Car Crashes Rise on Tax Day, Study Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- If you're waiting until the last possible day to file your taxes, you might want to walk to the post office instead of driving there.  But even that won't guarantee you'll be safe.

Research from a University of Toronto professor published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association says that people tend to get into more fatal accidents on April 15 than the same weekday one week earlier or week later.

In the U.S., it's a 13 percent spike in deadly crashes.

Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier studied data over a 30-year period to reach the conclusion that more drivers wind up dead on the day taxes are due than those other days.

The study reveals that close to 7,000 people wound up dying in crashes on the 30 tax days, as opposed to 6,400 on each of the non-tax days.  Typically, the victim is a young man motoring around in a rural area.

It wasn't difficult to figure out why this happens.

According to Redelmeier, "Our main finding is that stressful deadlines can contribute to driving errors that can contribute to fatal crashes.  We use tax day to learn something about stress that may be relevant 365 days a year."

Even passengers and pedestrians aren't immune from the curse of April 15, says Redelmeier, although the reasons aren't as clear.  He can only guess that it has to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This year, April 15 falls on Sunday so you're safe then.  Not so much on Tuesday, April 17, this year's deadline.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Denmark Introduces ‘Fat Tax’ on Foods High in Saturated Fat

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(COPENHAGEN) -- Denmark has introduced what’s believed to be the world’s first fat food tax, applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3 percent saturated fats, in an effort to combat obesity and heart disease.

Danes hoarded food before the tax went into effect Saturday, emptying grocery store shelves. Some butter lovers may even resort to stocking up during trips abroad.

The new tax of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product will be levied on foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat.

The Nordic country isn’t known for having a grossly overweight population — only about 10 percent of Danes are considered obese, compared to about one-third of adults (33.8 percent) and approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents age 2—19 years in the United States, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

But perhaps Denmark has its obesity rate relatively under control because of its policies. In 2004, Denmark made it illegal for any food to have more than 2 percent trans fats.  In July 2010, the country increased taxes on ice cream, chocolate and sweets by 25 percent. At the same time, Denmark increased taxes on soft drinks, tobacco and alcohol products, beyond the minimum levels established by the EU.

“Denmark will not only increase general health amongst the population but will also ease the burden on the public health care system and increase its resources at a time of recession when Member States are cutting public expenditure,” Monika Kosinska, the secretary general of the European Public Health Alliance, said in 2010.

Kosinska said the tax increases should be complemented by measures to make nutritious food more affordable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Medicare Could Go Broke In a Few Years

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- Medicare, which provides health insurance for 47 million elderly and disabled Americans, could be broke within years, unless spending cuts or tax hikes are made. A new study looks at what would happen if the eligibility age for Medicare is raised.
Taxpayers could save billions of dollars if the eligibility age for Medicare is raised from 65 to 67, but a new report from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds there'd be ripple effects. Most 65- and 66-year-olds dropped from Medicare would pay a lot more health care, but so would employers because a lot of workers would stay on the job longer to keep their health benefits. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Money Main Cause of Stress in Americans

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON ) – Most Americans say that money is their primary source of stress, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association.

The APA found that 75 percent of Americans consider money their biggest stressor regardless of whether they had too much money, or too little.

Nikiya Spence, a licensed financial therapist and money coach, told Consumer Affairs that issues over money can have serious consequences on financial and personal behaviors.

"People inherit problems around money from their family and this can have to do with spending and how they grow to feel about money in general," Spence said. "These underlying feelings can cause problems when it comes to finances if you're not aware of them.”

Spence said that most problems with handling money, such as spending addictions and over and underspending, are subconscious and caused by dysfunctional emotions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


States Battle with Federal Government on Health Care

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a time when Medicaid enrollment is on a steady rise and the economy remains weak, health care has also unearthed old tensions between states and the federal government that lie at the heart of the health care debate.

The expansion of the Medicaid program under the new health care law, and additional measures like the requirement that every American must carry health insurance and states must set up health insurance exchanges -- where the uninsured would be able to shop for coverage and compare rates -- have aroused rebellion from states.

Twenty states have filed a joint lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services, challenging the constitutionality of the provision that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014.

The feud over health care between states and Washington is not new. It has existed since the program was created in 1965, but the current partisan climate in which political jockeying is on the rise just further exacerbates that tension.

"This is not exactly a new issue when states feel fiscally pressed," said Gail Wilensky, an economist and a senior fellow at Project Hope, an international health education foundation.

Medicaid has been particularly hard hit by the budget crisis and the weak economy. Spending on Medicaid rose an average of 8.8 percent this year, the highest rate of growth in eight years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The federal stimulus program gave some relief to states, providing roughly $87 billion in October 2008.

Under the new health care law, the federal government will provide funding to expand Medicaid to Americans whose incomes are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line.

But that has done little to appease states, many of which say the new law will increase their costs in the long-term even though it expands coverage to more citizens.

The blame game is likely to continue in an issue that is growing increasingly complex, experts say.

"There's not an easy villain," said William Roper, dean of the school of public health at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "We as Americans want people to be covered by health insurance and get health services that they need, but we have a much greater appetite for public services than we have an appetite for the taxes that pay for them and that has produced over years -- and more recently over the last few years -- a gigantic budget deficit."

"The greater challenge for states right now is how can we give people everything and stay solvent and do what the federal government wants," said Sreedhar Potarazu, an ophthalmologist and chief executive of Vital Spring Technologies. "States are on the verge of going over the cliff and health care is the last straw."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio