‘Fiscal Cliff’ Update: Senate Deal Keeps Most Tax Cuts
The White House and Mitch McConnell have reached a tentative deal early New Year’s Day.
The measure would raise taxes by about $600 billion over 10 years and delay for two months across-the-board spending cuts otherwise set to begin slashing the budgets of the Pentagon and numerous domestic agencies.
Highlights are as follows:
- Income tax rates: Extends tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6%, up from the current 35%. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000.
- Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40%, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35%.
- Capital gains, dividends: Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15% to 20%.
- Alternative minimum tax: Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000.
- Other tax changes: Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and an up to $2,500 tax credit for college tuition.
- Unemployment benefits: Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year.
- Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors: Blocks a 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula.
- Social Security payroll tax cut: Allows a 2-percentage point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2%.
- Across-the-board cuts: Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rules changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs.
- Mortgage Debt Relief Act: No cancellation of Debt Income tax on Qualified Primary Residence Debt extended to December 31, 2013.