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January 09, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Deal in a Nutshell

While the federal government’s so-called “fiscal cliff” debacle may have left you angry, incredulous or just plain confused, now that the deal is done (or the argument postponed, in any case), you may be wondering what it actually means for you or your small business. The deal that was passed by Congress on January 1, 2013 and signed immediately by President Obama has a name: it’s the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” (because “Dysfunctional Congress’ Fiscal Cliff Debacle” doesn’t look so great atop a piece of federal legislation).

While the new legislation, which was necessary to address the expiration of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 (and renewed in 2010) may have prevented the catastrophes that would have gone into effect had we reached the end of the year with no deal and makes permanent much of the Bush tax cuts except on the wealthiest Americans, U.S. workers are still going to see some extra taxes coming out of their paychecks.

Here’s how it works for most Americans: individuals with taxable income of under $400,000 per year ($450,000 for a married couple on a joint tax return) will see tax rates for income, capital gains and dividends remain at their 2012 levels, instead of reverting to the higher rates that would have occurred had we gone “off the cliff.” However, 2010’s cut to payroll taxes was not extended in the new legislation, which means that the 4.2 percent rate will rise to earlier levels of 6.2 percent. The Boston Globe noted that President Obama had requested that the lower 4.2 percent payroll rate be extended, but lawmakers declined... Read More

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