Primer on 3.8 percent federal tax that takes effect in 2013

On January 1, 2013, a new 3.8 percent federal tax will take effect.  The tax will benefit the Medicare program and was part of the healthcare legislation that was passed in 2010 (Obamacare).  The 3.8 tax applies only to income on certain investments earned by high income individuals and couples.

The urban myth about this tax is that it is a new tax on real estate sales.  While there are certain scenarios where a gain on a real estate transaction may be taxed, the tax does not apply to the real estate transaction itself.

The new tax applies only to individuals with $200,000 in adjusted gross income and couples with $250,000 in adjusted gross income.  In addition, the exclusion for capital gains on real estate still applies.