The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Our Common Cents – FYI: ‘Fiscal Cliff Base Primer’


    I have been attempting to educate myself on the basics of some of the issues involved in the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations.    Since We, The People, are being asked by President Obama to be involved and send in what we do and do not support, I decided it would be prudent to do some research; review historical and present data to consider in making my decisions.

    One of the most cohesive listing of basic data on this topic is compliments of AARP.  Did you know…………………..

    Changes that appear to be fairly certain regardless of what Congress does:

    • Standard deductions will rise (amounts have not been announced).

    • The personal exemption will increase, reportedly to $3,900, in 2013 from $3,800 this year.

    • The maximum earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $113,700 in 2013 from $110,100 in 2012.

    • Contributions to defined contribution plans will climb to a maximum $23,000 — $17,500 in regular contributions, up from $17,000 in 2012, plus $5,500 in catch-up contributions for those 50-plus, same as in 2012.

    • There will be a higher threshold on medical deductions, meaning it will be harder to qualify. You'll only be allowed to deduct medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (up from 7.5 percent in 2012). However, if you are 65 or older, the threshold will remain at 7.5 percent. Beginning in 2017, everyone will be subject to the 10 percent limit.

    • On a related note, the maximums on deductions for long-term care insurance premiums will rise. This is a tax break that many people don't know about. But if you're age 50 to 60, the maximum you'll be able to deduct will rise to $1,360 (up from $1,310 in 2012); age 61 to 70, the maximum will increase to $3,640 (from $3,500); after 70, the limit will climb to $4,550 (from $4,370).

    "That extra couple of thousand dollars you pay for premiums could push you over the limit so you can deduct your medical expenses," says Gil Charney, principal tax researcher with the H&R Block Tax Institute.

    • There will be a new 3.8 percent tax on investment income for upper-income filers, as a provision of the Affordable Care Act. If you're single and earning at least $200,000 or married, filing jointly, with an income of $250,000 or more, your unearned income (interest, dividends, annuities, investment gains and the like) will be subject to the 3.8 percent tax.

    • The Medicare-funding Hospital Insurance Tax, currently at 1.45 percent, will increase by 0.9 percentage point for higher earners, another provision of health reform. The increase will apply only to income that's in excess of $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for those married and filing jointly.

    • Flexible Spending Accounts will have federally required contribution caps for the first time in 2013. These pre-tax accounts, used to pay for family medical expenses, will have a $2,500 annual cap. (Though there were no federal caps previously, most employers had imposed a $5,000 cap).

    Here are some changes that could affect you in 2013 if Congress does not renew various tax cuts of recent years:

    • The Social Security tax will rise to its traditional rate of 6.2 percent of covered income from the current 4.2 percent level.

    • The 10 percent income tax rate will be eliminated so that filers in that bracket this year will pay 15 percent in 2013; those with income in the 25 percent bracket will pay 28 percent on that money; the 28 percent bracket will rise to 31 percent; the 33 percent bracket will go to 36 percent, with the highest rate, now 35 percent, going up to 39.6 percent. The IRS has not yet disclosed the income levels that will correspond to these tax brackets.

    • The maximum federal rate on most long-term capital gains will increase to 20 percent in 2013, up from 15 percent this year. The biggest change will involve qualified dividends. If the tax cuts are not extended, these dividends will be considered ordinary income and taxed as high as 39.6 percent.

    • More taxpayers will have to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. Dating to 1969, this tax was meant to apply to higher earners who used shelters and other means to avoid taxes. Special income exemption measures in recent years have saved millions of people from this tax. If lawmakers don't act, the exemption amounts will drop dramatically, subjecting more people to the tax.

    • The deductions for married couples will fall. Why? Because the Bush-era tax cuts raised the deduction to address the so-called marriage penalty that had many couples filing jointly paying more than if they filed as single.

    • Some measures that limit tax savings through itemized deductions and personal exemptions will return for higher-income people.

    • College tuition breaks will be less generous. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, set to expire at the end of this year, allowed families to take a credit of up to $2,500 in related expenses. If the AOTC expires, the Hope Education credit will take its place and limit the credit to $1,800. The Hope credit also only applies for two years of college while the ATOC has provided four years of credit.

    *Note:  While this is far from being a complete listing of the issues, it’s a start!  If you have other pertinent factual data to add, please do.


    Thanks for the details, Sam.  Most everything else I have seen is either meta or macro, big picture aspects of the cliff.  That, and or how the rich and middle-class are affected.   Seeing how it will actually impact us lesser beings is much more helpful.

    Both the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax holiday should never have been.  Both were designed to come back and bite at some point.  It would have been better to figure out a way to refund the surplus as equitably as possible. 


    FYI: for context..................

    the tax amount of $250,000 taxable income for a married couple is $59,407

    Using the 2000 tax rate schedule before the Bush tax cuts it is $73,409, an increase of $13,642 if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire.

    More context, please.  Married with children or without?  How does that compare with married filing separate at $125,000 each which I sincerely hope is the same as a single taxpayer making the same income and hopefully much more than a single head of household with children.

    If I was the decider there would be no separate categories, only credits and/or exemptions for children and other legal dependents that parents or caregivers can divy up as they choose.

    The largest and growing demographic categories are singles and married with no children aka DINKs.  Singles with or without children are at an economic disadvantage to them.  No reason tax policies should make that worse than it already is.

    But I really do not understand what this has to do with my comment.  Regardless of what rates should or should not be, the Bush tax cuts were unnecessary.  If they wanted to return some of Clinton's surplus, they could have rebated some of it and re-calibrated rates going forward without creating the strum and drang we have now which was predicted.  

    I have dim memory from several decades ago of receiving a tax rebate when rates were lowered after the beginning of the year.  Do not recall whether it was federal or state.  My point is that rebating part of a surprise surplus like the one that resulted from the bubblicious 90s is feasible and more reasonable than reducing rates only to have them reinstate automatically sometime down the road.


    Ditto on the thanks for sharing what you've found

    After a quick perusal, this one stood out to me:

    • On a related note, the maximums on deductions for long-term care insurance premiums will rise. This is a tax break that many people don't know about. But if you're age 50 to 60, the maximum you'll be able to deduct will rise to $1,360 (up from $1,310 in 2012); age 61 to 70, the maximum will increase to $3,640 (from $3,500); after 70, the limit will climb to $4,550 (from $4,370).

    that the government should go all out to make sure more people should know about it, whether the deductions are raised or not Because the people who buy this insurance are going to save Medicaid from having to pay for their nursing home. I can't imagine the deductions cost as much as all those people giving away their assets so they can be eligible for Medicaid coverage of their end-of-life care.

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