First the good news: babies born before midnight qualify their parents for a tax deduction for all of 2012. Allen Lai and Marilyn Yap were due tomorrow, but had a c-section at Crouse Hospital, so their Jemima gives them an extra, financial bonus.
The bad news, for most of us, is that Congressional delays will mean hits to our wallets and spending power, even if a vote on the Fiscal Cliff comes before the midnight deadline.
Here's why: the IRS has not printed the tax forms that are usually ready right at New Year's. Ted Sarenski, CPA and Financial Planner with Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, says that they will not be available til late January, at the earliest, so even early filers should not expect refunds until March. That, he says will also impact the economy as people who use their tax refunds won't be able to pay off Christmas bills, or buy big ticket items--including winter/spring vacations---as usual.
In addition, these impacts:
~Alternative Minimum Tax: right now 5 million Americans fall into this category, if Congress does not act it will jump to 25 million, with taxpayers in New York and California most affected. It would bump 'qualifying' taxpayers from 15 - 25% brackets up to a 28% tax rate, because deductions for real estate taxes, mortgages and charity deductions would not count.
~Paycheck deductions would increase: Social Security deductions would go up 2% (that's about $20 out of each paycheck on average, according to Sarenski). In addtion, income tax deductions from paychecks would increase.
When Congress votes, those increases are likely to be rescinded, but Sarenski says it's not clear how that will work, either.
There could be a refund (less taken out of future paychecks), or the refund may not come til next year's tax time.
And, it's not just taxes that will cost you more: at this point, even though there's an agreement in principle, Congress has not voted on the Agriculture Bill extension. Until that happens, milk prices could double.
Sarenski also worries about the lack of confidence this whole Congressional delay is causing. "When we don't know from day to day, it's very difficult to plan for retirement, for a child's education, for money they need to set aside for the future," he says.
" if they don't know how much of that money is going to be taken away in income taxes or payroll taxes or some other taxes that they don't even know about today."