White House flack Stephanie Cutter got her fact check on this morning, explaining to the many devoted readers of the cleverly named White House Blog that, despite rumors on the Internetz, the health benefit information that might show up on your employer-provided tax form next year won’t make your income taxes go up. But fact checking is so much fun that it’s easy get too excited and go a little overboard. As Julian Pecquet notes at The Hill:
The White House seems to have taken the rebuttal a bit far. Cutter goes on to make a general statement that suggests the new law will never tax health care plans, which isn't true either.
"For months," Cutter writes, "opponents of health reform have falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act would lead to the taxation of health care benefits. The claim wasn't true when the rumor first surfaced, it isn't true today and it won't be true tomorrow."
While the W-2 rumors are demonstrably false, the law does create an excise tax on high-cost healthcare plans. Starting in 2018, so-called "Cadillac plans" will be subject to a 40 percent tax on excess benefits.
The White House now says it only meant to address the W-2 rumor, but that just isn’t clear from the post. Now, it's possible that Cutter's claim will actually turn out to be right: Given the strong union opposition to the Cadillac tax, it may be that the provision is cut before it comes into effect. But despite Cutter’s claim, the PPACA explicitly calls for the taxation of health care benefits starting in just a few years.