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Fiscal cliff: What it means to you

By Walter Geiger There is much debate currently about the so-called fiscal cliff, a series of policy changes and actions that will automatically kick in at midnight on December 31 if not overridden. Explaining these in depth is so daunting a task that no one has really attempted it. Instead, we get talking points from both political parties – the principals of which would rather strut about debating issues rather than solve problems. Here is what we do know, temporary payroll tax cuts will come to an end resulting in an automatic two percent tax increase on everybody who gets a paycheck. Many tax breaks for small businesses will be eliminated and most business people will have no choice but to cut payrolls to compensate. Alternative minimum tax rates for which many small business owners qualify will shift, biting into business income and small business employment. And, obscene Obamacare costs will begin to hit those companies with more than 50 employees. You can bet that businesses throughout the country will cut employment to below that magic number. In fact, many already have, putting more people in the unemployment line. Less talked about are the automatic cuts that will hit over 1000 government programs, including Medicare and defense. There is more and more sentiment in Washington to just let the country go over the cliff rather than try to reach a deal. So we would drastically cut our own defense budget at the same time we are shipping 200 Abrams tanks to a ruler in Egypt backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Such is Washington logic. If you want to bog down the Google servers, do a search for pro-American Muslim organizations in foreign countries. So, what would going over the fiscal cliff mean to you? How would it impact your pocketbook or wallet? There is a neat little calculator online at creditcards. com. Yes. I was skeptical, too, but apparently this widget has been checked out. So, I ran some scenarios through it. Here are the results. If you are single and make $25,000, your taxes will go from $2870 to $3815. The same single person earning $50,000 will see an increase from $8065 to $9629. A single person earning $100,000 will pay $26,805 on the other side of the cliff as opposed to the current $22,742. Should that single person earn $275,000, above the line in the sand drawn by the Obama administration that defines one as ‘˜wealthy’, taxes jump nearly $10,000 from $76,442 to $86,030. I ran these same income levels for a married couple filing jointly with two children – which is about the average as near as I can determine. Couples at the $25,000 income level will pay $1550 as opposed to $1,050. That’s $500 they just don’t have. Raise the family income to $50,000 and total taxes rise from $4585 to $6768. Should that family earn $100,000, taxes go from $14,205 to $19,201. And, that ‘˜rich’ couple earning $275,000 that needs to pay its ‘˜fair share’ will see taxes rise by over $10,000 from $62,839 to $73,514. Put differently, those families would hand over 26.7% of their income to government. There is much posturing out there regarding this crisis that is solely of our own making. Both parties are wrongly attempting to exploit it for political gain when, in fact, it hurts those who work and benefits those who refuse to work any job at any wage level. Americans have a long history of sacrifice. By nature, most of us are willing to do our part. We may whine about it but we will pay more taxes to help the country out of the financial straits it is in. The question is whether or not those in Washington – Democrat or Republican will use the money for that purpose. At present, there is very little evidence that they will. You can calculate your tax increase (there will be no decreases) on the other side of the fiscal cliff by clicking Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and the Pike County Journal Reporter.

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