Why your next paycheck will be smaller

Middle-class taxpayers avoided an income tax increase in the fiscal cliff budget deal, but the Social Security payroll tax will be higher for everyone.

By Karen Datko Jan 2, 2013 1:13PM

Pay check stub showing taxes withheld © Comstock, Comstock, Getty ImagesNow that the fiscal cliff is in the rearview mirror with a deal that raises income and investment taxes on the wealthiest Americans, there's one tax hike that most U.S. workers will not escape.


On the final day of 2012, the payroll tax for Social Security reverted to its normal rate of 6.2% -- up from the 4.2% it's been since 2011. The tax had been temporarily reduced to give U.S. households extra spending money to help stimulate the economy.


For a household grossing $50,000 a year, the return to the old level will cut take-home pay by $1,000 a year, or $19 a week. For someone making $30,000 in pretax income, the higher tax means $600 less a year.


How much more will you pay? The Wall Street Journal provides a calculator, or you can consult this handy chart. Keep in mind that the payroll tax applies only to the first $113,700 of income.


Extending the payroll tax holiday wasn't even part of the discussion as Congress narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff with a deal that raises income and investment taxes on those making $400,000 a year ($450,000 for couples).


However, by allowing Social Security taxes to return to their previous level, Congress can't say the middle class was spared.


"It's a huge hit," Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, told The Associated Press. "It hits people whether they're making $10,000 or they're making $2 million. It doesn't matter who you are . . . . The lower your income, the more of your income you're (spending). So if your taxes go up, it's going to come out of your spending."

The Washington Post says this will be the first tax increase nearly half of Americans have seen in their paychecks (other than when your income grows and you move into a higher tax bracket).

The Post added:

"'We haven't seen broad-based individual tax increases at the federal level in the last 30 years,' said Owen Zidar, an economist at the University of California. 'In the 1960s through the 1980s, payroll tax increases affected most taxpayers, but the vast majority of broad-based tax changes have been cuts rather than increases.'"

On the other hand, Social Security has to be funded. That money normally comes from a 12.4% payroll tax, half paid by you and half by your employer. Only employees got the reduced 4.2% rate over the past two years.


The estimated $215 billion workers didn't pay to Social Security for 2011-12 was replaced with money borrowed by the federal government, which added to the national debt.


Will the economy suffer because the tax holiday expired? Maybe. Maybe not. Says the Post:

"Economists say the expiration of the tax cut will be a major drag on the economy this year. Estimates suggest it could cost between 500,000 and 1 million jobs, leaving the unemployment about 0.4 percentage points higher than it otherwise would be."

However, Joseph Rosenberg, a research associate at the Urban/Brookings Tax Policy Center, told American Public Media's Marketplace that if the Bush tax cuts are extended (and they were for the vast majority of folks), "then the impact of the expiration of the payroll tax is not likely to have a significant economic impact."


It is the wealthy who will be seeing the biggest tax increase as a result of the fiscal cliff deal. Says the AP:

"For 2013, households making between $500,000 and $1 million would get an average tax increase of $14,812, according to the Tax Policy Center analysis. Households making more than $1 million would get an average tax increase of $170,341."

Will you miss the extra $19 or so a week you took home during the payroll tax holiday?

More on MSN Money:



Jan 2, 2013 3:19PM

Hey Government....there has got to be other ways to balance a budget.  I can think of a few right off the top of my head:

1).  Get rid of some of the fat cat worthless politicians we have in this country (that should save millions of taxpayer dollars)

2).  Since the USA is in such a fiscal mess stop giving money to other countries until we get back on our own feet (if you saw the billions we give away to countries that pretty much hate us we would probably have a "surplus" instead of a "deficit"

3).  Make the USA more reliant on itself...we have farms, dairy, OIL etc. that we export instead of caring for ourselves & in the process more jobs would be created (especially in the Energy sector).

4).  Control Wall Street better so these false shortages or "I think scenarios" would not artificially pump up prices that ultimately hurts the US public (consumers).


Probably none of this would happen because it goes against everything Washington stands for!!!

Jan 2, 2013 3:07PM
I did not get a raise for the last 3 years! This last year my employer gave me a whopping 2%. Now my government takes it away. Im sick and tired of the mess our government is making of our counrty. Taxes on top of taxes, etc. It has to stop!!!
Jan 2, 2013 3:40PM
How about paying me back all of my Social Security I have paid into it for the last 24 years and I will invest it my way!
Jan 2, 2013 2:08PM

Not too happy about the bump back to 6.2% because I keep getting my annual letter that says SSI will be broke 3 years before I'm eligible to retire.

Also, is anything else going to go down as a result or is this just another hand in my pocket?

Food, utilities, clothing, all the basic needs are costing more and more.


Jan 2, 2013 3:09PM
I was just told by accounting that I will be missing over $200 a month out of my paycheck because of this. I wonder how much our over paid politicians will be missing.

Jan 2, 2013 3:33PM
YES, I will miss it. Now my $27.00 per week will go to a piece of crap on welfare, which is what Obama wants anyway. I'd feel better if SS would actually be there WHEN I RETIRE 30 years from now, but I'll be lucky to get a 6 pack of beer for all the $$ I'll put in over the years.
Jan 2, 2013 3:19PM
The WWII generation built the greatest country in the history of Man. Their entitled kids destroyed it
Jan 2, 2013 4:22PM
Thank you Obama voters, if it hadn't been for all you bloodsuckers getting your free cell phones, free food, free housing, free birth control, free abortions, free medical, free education (for all our illegal friends), free this and free that, maybe those of us that get up every morning, go to work, take care of our families and pay our bills would be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  It's funny how you want to share our money but don't want to share the work.  As far as government workers, enough is enough, you earn more than we do, have better benefits, and way better retirements than we do, all at our expense.  I am ashamed to omit that I was a democrat for 48 years.  The republicans are no better but at least they are making an attempt to save us, get behind them and save this country.  I've seen Socialism in action, if we continue to follow the Obama and Democrat ideology we will regret it.
Jan 2, 2013 3:49PM
Anyone who thinks Obama gives a damn about anyone but himself is a fool.  He doesn't care about the middle class, lower class, or any class.  The sooner the people who keep voting for him realize that, the sooner we'll have a real recovery.
Jan 2, 2013 2:27PM
Obama was a complete imbecile to cut the Social Security tax anyway.  It needs to be increased 2-3% just to pay for future benefits.   But this Ponzi scheme likely will collapse within a decade or two anyway.

Government spending will likely top 4 trillion this year, while we take in a record 2.7 trillion in taxes.  We will STILL have 1.3 trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

Tack on another 5.2 trillion to the 16.4 trillion we already have and we will have close to 21.6 trillion in debt before Obama leaves office.  Considering he started with 10.2 trillion that  is quite a record.  21.6 trillion divided by 80 million households means your share of this debt is $270,000 up from 127,500 when Obama started.   Did you get your EQUAL SHARE of that  142,5000 that Obama spent for you?  
Jan 2, 2013 3:07PM
This is not a tax hike, employees have always paid 7.65% for social security, and medicare, until, we had a reprieve for a few years to stimulate the ecomony...employees got a break of about 2%, but were informed that the break would only be for a short period of time....meanwhile, employers still paid the 7.65%, and now we will all return to paying our 7.65% for social security.  Why the media has to make it sound different than the reprieve is now over, I don't understand....I guess it makes better press.
Jan 2, 2013 3:34PM
Yes Barry, in Socialism the rich do get poorer,
but always remember the poor get poorer too and they have less of a cushion.
Barry and all the other college professors forgot that last part unfortunately,,,, for us.
Jan 2, 2013 3:11PM

More of the same old bad news for those of us who are footing the bills for Romney's 47%. They will not be experiencing increased taxes, they will not be experiencing cuts to their EBT cards. The entitlement class couldn't care less. Myself, I shall miss the 2% taken out of my disposable income. The Republicans should not have given in to this president. Where are the spending cuts we were promised?

Jan 2, 2013 3:37PM
Mirage Guy this so called Ponzi scheme worked just fine until the crooks in Washington got their hands in the cookie jar, taking bits and pieces of it out for their own gain.
Jan 2, 2013 3:43PM

Nice..Another half-assed attempt by BOTH sides of the political aisle to try and fix what THEY caused.


And now the debt can has been kicked down the road, past the "bridge out" sign, and it has plunged into the river.  The government will tax more, spend more, save LESS, and NOT reduce spending.  Numbers (factual) show that with this deal, you have a ratio of 1 dollar of savings, in comparison to 41 bucks of spending...


Now, for ALL of you dems AND rep's out there, do these numbers look balanced to you???


In 2 months from now, we will once again be at this point, where YOU elected officials won't have the balls to face the fact that the checks that Noblaba as well as YOUR congress has written, will need to be covered...


Or, will you spineless weasels actually do what needs to be done, which is cover the checks, and stop ALL OF THE WASTEFUL SPENDING...


So much for the "super-committee"...


We shall see...


Thanks guys...




A dis-satisfied customer and voter...

Jan 2, 2013 4:08PM
Jan 2, 2013 2:18PM

On this the DOW should be down 400 points, the dow goes up on rumors and hopes & dreams this too shall pass.

Jan 2, 2013 1:46PM
Good! It was a stupid thing to do to begin with.
Jan 2, 2013 3:14PM
Stop the social security Ponzi Scheme NOW!!!
Jan 2, 2013 4:13PM

Yes, it will be missed.  My measly raise will only be 2.5% - yippee, my healthcare went up $20 per week, so I am -2.5% for the year.  Everything keeps going up, but wages.  Something has to give.  Our "elected" officials need to be "we the people", not we the "bought and owned by Wall Street, special interest, etc".  They need to know what it means to try to live on the median income of less than $50,000 per year, and then maybe, just maybe things may change.  I think that in order to run for any public office, you need to make below $200,000 per year, and the closer to the median income the better.  Until then, there is no hope for the rest of us.

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