WASHINGTON -- A typical middle-income family making $40,000 to $64,000 a year could see its taxes go up by $2,000 next year if lawmakers fail to renew a lengthy roster of tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, according to a new report Monday
Taxpayers across the income spectrum would be hit with large tax hikes, the Tax Policy Center said in its study, with households in the top 1 percent income range seeing an average tax increase of more than $120,000, while a family making between $110,000 to $140,000 could see a tax hike in the $6,000 range.
All told, the government would reap more than $500 billion in new revenue if a full menu of tax cuts were allowed to expire. The expiring provisions include Bush-era cuts on wage and investment income and cuts for married couples and families with children, among others. Also expiring is a 2 percentage point temporary payroll tax cut championed by President Barack Obama.
"It's just a huge, huge number," said Eric Toder, one of the authors of the study.
Economists warn that the looming tax hikes, combined with $109 billion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January, could throw the fragile economy back into recession if Washington doesn't act. The automatic spending cuts are coming due because of the failure of last year's deficit "supercommittee" to strike a bargain. The combination of the sharp tax hikes and spending cuts has been dubbed a "fiscal cliff."
"The fiscal cliff threatens an unprecedented tax increase at year end," says the report. "Taxes would rise by more than $500 billion in 2013 -- an average of almost $3,500 per household -- as almost every tax cuts enacted since 2001 would expire."
Cumulatively, the country would see a 5 percentage point jump in its average tax rate, which works out to taxes on the top 1 percent jumping by more than 7 percentage points and about 4 percentage points for most people earning below $100,000 a year.
Put another way, people in the $40,000-$64,000 income range would see their average federal tax rate jump from 14 percent to 17.8 percent -- or an increase in their overall federal bill of 27 percent.