If Democrats and Republicans in Congress don’t come up with a tax plan they can both swallow, the U.S. will plummet over the “fiscal cliff,” meaning that taxpayers will be slammed with a series of automatic tax hikes and tax credit reductions and the U.S. could slip into another recession. The “fiscal cliff” metaphor doesn’t exactly reflect the situation and may be intentionally alarmist, but alternatives, such as “fiscal slope” and “fiscal garden,” seem more likely to draw laughter than serious consideration.
To stick with the metaphor, then: Some taxpayers will fall farther than others. In the interactive below, select one of six family types. Then, choose from among five income levels representing different income percentiles of people of that family type, and see how far a typical taxpayer of that family type and income level would fall, according to the Tax Policy Center’s tax calculator. The red and blue lines show the tax hike that taxpayer would experience if Congress passes the Republican or Democratic tax plans, respectively.
For the most part, single people will fall farther than married people, poor people will fall farther than rich people, and couples with kids will fall farther than couples without. A few aspects of the fiscal cliff explain these outcomes, including a raise in the income tax rate for the lowest tax bracket, a reduction in the child tax credit from a maximum of $1,000 per child to $500, and the expiration of a tax credit that helps parents and students pay for college expenses.
For a more thorough breakdown of how the fiscal cliff compares with the 2012 tax rates as well as the proposed plans from both parties, check out the Washington Post’s fiscal cliff calculator. To get a more precise idea of how the different outcomes of the tax debate would affect you, use the Tax Policy Center’s tax calculator. In the meantime, enjoy hurling sample taxpayers into fiscal oblivion!
How Far Would You Fall Down the Fiscal Cliff?
If Congress don't pass a tax plan, automatic tax hikes kick in, sending the country over the dreaded "fiscal cliff." But some people would fall farther than others.
Below, select a family type. Then, choose between five annual incomes that represent different income percentiles of that type. The available combinations are based on the sample taxpayers in the Tax Policy Center's tax calculator.
The farther your taxpayer falls, the bigger a hit he or she would take if Congress fails to pass a plan.The red and blue lines show how much shorter your taxpayer's fall would be if Congress passes the Republican or Democratic tax plans, respectively.
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