I thought “fiscal cliff” was a silly name for the tax hikes and federal budget cuts that will kick in automatically at year's end if Washington policymakers fail to act, and then I heard someone call it “taxmageddon.”
What's next? “Budget black hole?” “Monetary meltdown?” “The Great Depression?” Oh wait, we've already used that one.
Whatever it's called, it's a cloud hanging over our economy and every single one of us taxpayers.
Many have forecast the nation's economy will slip back into a recession if Congress does nothing to forestall the potential fiscal cliff, and Congress has been particularly good at doing nothing. The national unemployment rate, currently at 7.9 percent, would jump back above 9 percent, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Taxes would rise more than $500 billion next year, and middle-income families — the same ones who politicians claim deserve a break — would see their tax bills climb an average of nearly $2,000, according to the Tax Policy Center. Low-income households also would be dealt a blow with an expiration of tax credits.
The one thing nearly everyone agrees on is that it can't be allowed to happen.
While it appears extremely likely that those in power will take some action, uncertainty still abounds about precisely what they will do. The entire situation, born in a politically charged atmosphere, is almost certain to remain a partisan issue.
Today, in the pages of this Business section, we are publishing information from The Associated Press that should help our readers understand some of the potential implications of the fiscal cliff.
I'm also working on a story to run later in The Oklahoman and on NewsOK.com that I hope will offer some insight on what the average taxpayer should be considering or doing in anticipation of a tax season filled with more doubt than perhaps any before.
I'd love to hear from some of you on your thoughts about what this might mean for you, what if anything you might be doing about it, and your general reaction to the situation. I plan to include some of your input in that future article.
Let me hear from you on this topic.
Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.