Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

CCH Outlines Options as Congress, Taxpayers Face Fiscal Cliff

December 26, 2012

RIVERWOODS, Ill., Dec. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Congress is scheduled to return tomorrow to complete work for the year, which is hoped to include a deal to avert the December 31 “fiscal cliff” deadline, but it will need to work quickly to do so – or come to some interim agreement, according to CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business and leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services (CCHGroup.com).

“While a deal looked close on several occasions during negotiations, it’s been elusive so far,” said George Jones, JD, CCH Senior Federal Tax Analyst. “Whether a resolution can be reached before Congress recesses for the year grows dimmer as the days progress.”

The fiscal cliff, shorthand for January 1, 2013, when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect, includes a series of across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases.

According to CCH, three scenarios that could transpire over the next few days include:

  • A full resolution is reached. The Presidential and Senate Democratic proposal and the Republican plan still remain miles apart. Most attention has focused on the divide between the tax increases in the Democratic proposal on incomes of more than $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers; and the spending cuts in the Republican proposal, particularly to entitlement programs.


“Last week it seemed President Obama and House Speaker Boehner were circling in on a middle ground, but that fell apart and it’s not clear they will be able to return to those positions to resume negotiations this week,” said Jones.

The president had mentioned being open to a $400,000 threshold on income tax rates at one point.


  • An agreement “in principle” with details worked out in 2013. A full resolution would require reaching an agreement, finalizing the bill and getting it voted on in both the House and Senate. That may not be possible with the time left, according to Jones.


“They could pass legislation establishing a framework of general tax increases and/or spending cuts and allow the new Congress to work out the details early next year.”


  • No agreement is reached and the Bush-era tax cuts fully expire. Not only would this increase taxes across the board based on income, it also would make an estimated 20 million additional families subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT), raise the capital gains rate and tax dividends as ordinary income. Additionally, the child tax credit would be cut by one-half to $500 from $1,000 and the estate tax would revert to 55 percent with a $1 million exemption amount compared to 2012′s 35-percent maximum estate tax after a $5.12 million exemption, among other tax impacts.

“Even if we go over the fiscal cliff, Congress could act early next year to reach a compromise and make any agreement retroactive to the beginning of the year,” said Jones. “However, this would not be the ideal scenario for most taxpayers, businesses or investors – most of whom would prefer some degree of certainty heading into 2013.”

Tax Outcomes for Middle-class Couple

Depending upon the taxpayer’s situation, the different proposals could have an impact of a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars in the taxes they owe.

Below, CCH provides an example of how the current Democratic and Republican proposals would affect a married couple filing jointly with $150,000 in taxable income, $2,500 in capital gains and $500 in dividends.

The free CCH 2013 Fiscal Cliff Estimator (CCHGroup.com/Estimator), allows individuals and tax advisors to compare a taxpayer’s 2012 tax liability against the two proposals as well as what would happen if Congress does not act.

                                      Current 2012 tax rates                              Full-extension of Bush-era tax                                                             Presidential and Senate Democratic                                                                                                                       Fiscal Cliff (if Congress does
                                                                                              cuts (Republican Plan)                                                                               proposal                                                                                                                                              not act)
                                      ----------------------                               ------------------------------                                                            ----------------------------------                                                                                                                      ------------------------------
        Income tax rate                                               28%                                                           28%                                                             28%*                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         31%
        ---------------                                              ---                                                           ---                                                               ---                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ---
        Estimated Income
               tax       $30,229 (including dividends and capital gains)               $29,916 (including dividends and capital gains)                                                                          $29,465 (not including capital gains and dividends)                                                                                                                                 $34,891 (including capital gains and dividends)
        ----------------                      --------------------------                             ---------------------------------                                                                                           ----------------------------------                                                                                                                                                  ------------------------------
           Long-term                                                  15%                 15% (plus 3.8% Medicare Tax on                                                                                                                                         15%                                                                          20% (plus 3.8% Medicare Tax on
          capital gains                                                                   Net Investment Income for some                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Net Investment Income for
                                                                                                    taxpayers)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       some taxpayers)
                                                                                                                                                                                          $375 (plus 3.8% Medicare Tax on Net Investment Income for some taxpayers)
    ---                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ----------------------------------
           Dividends                                                  15%                                                           15%                                                                                                                          15%                                                                                                                                                                             31%
                                                                                                                                        $75 (taxed as capital gains except in excess of the higher income AGI cutoffs, when dividends are taxed as ordinary income)
    ---                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ----------------------------------
            deduction                                            $11,900                                                       $12,200                                                                                                                      $12,200                                                                                                                                                                         $10,150
            ---------                                            -------                                                       -------                                                                                                                      -------                                                                                                                                                                         -------
            Personal                                              $3,800  $3,900 (personal exemption phase-out assumed to be extended)                                                 Proposed to allow the temporary
            exemption                                                                                                                                                                 repeal of the personal exemption
                                                                                                                                                                                             phase-out to expire                                                     $3,900 (total exemptions that may be claimed by a taxpayer are reduced by 2% for each $2,500, or portion thereof by which the taxpayer's AGI exceeds the applicable threshold)
           ----------                                             ------                             ---------------------------------                                                --------------------------------                                                                                                                                                                                               ------------------------------
           AMT patch                            Yes                                                    Yes                                                                                        Supported                                                                                                                                    None. 20 million additional
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 families estimated to be
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      subject to AMT
           ---------                                                 ---                                                           ---                                                                                                                    ---------                                                                           ----------------------------
        Payroll tax cut                                                                    Not included in Bush-era tax                                                                 Not discussed. Social Security                                                                                                                        Not extended. Rate increases
                                                                                            cuts. Social Security rate                                                                    rate increases to 6.2% for                                                                                                                              to 6.2% for employees;
                                                                                         increases to 6.2% for employees;                                                               employees; maximum increase is                                                                                                                          maximum increase is $2,274
                                                                                            maximum increase is $2,274                                                                              $2,274
        ---------------                                                                 ---------------------------------                                                              -------------------------------                                                                                                                                                                                                -----------------------------

Source: CCH Fiscal Cliff Estimator.

* The tax is estimated based on taxable income. The President’s proposal is based on Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), not taxable income. Taxable income is determined by subtracting personal exemptions and either the standard deduction or itemized deductions (among other items) from AGI. Rates could differ slightly based on this differentiation.

About CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business (CCHGroup.com) is a leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services. It has served tax, accounting and business professionals since 1913. Among its market-leading solutions are The ProSystem fx(®) Suite, CorpSystem(®), CCH(®) IntelliConnect(®), Accounting Research Manager(®) and the U.S. Master Tax Guide(®). CCH is based in Riverwoods, Ill. Follow us now on Twitter @CCHMediaHelp. Wolters Kluwer (www.wolterskluwer.com) is a market-leading global information services company. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.

SOURCE CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

Source: PR Newswire