Even if you didn’t touch a drop of alcohol on New Year’s Eve, you could be waking up Tuesday morning with the makings of a huge financial headache.
With Congress missing the midnight deadline for averting the fiscal crisis, Americans are now on the receiving end of a wave of tax hikes – at least for the time being. Lawmakers are scrambling, with the Senate passing legislation early Tuesday morning, to halt most of those increases. The House returns at noon to begin consideration of the proposal. But the pain over any prolonged political indecision in Washington could be felt for months.
So what’s this mean for the average American?
In the short term, taxes will go up. By how much and for how long is the question.
Congress has the technical ability to rewind the clock and effectively undo any tax increases, but until lawmakers agree on a compromise and it’s signed by President Obama, Americans are left paying for the pricey political stalemate playing out in Washington.
Most will feel the first fiscal sting in their January paychecks. Starting today, a 2-percentage-point payroll tax holiday expires. That means workers will have 6.2 percent of their wages withheld to pay for Social Security, up from 4.2 percent over the past two years. For households earning $50,000, they will have to pay $1,000 more in taxes in 2013. Despite both Democrats and Republicans saying they don’t want to tax the middle class, this holiday is unlikely to be extended.
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