Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

What the tax bill means to you

The package extends many Bush-era tax breaks, including lower rates, and cuts the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2%.

By Teresa Mears Dec 17, 2010 12:32PM

This post is from the Associated Press.

Here are the highlights of the tax package passed by Congress late Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama. It would cost about $858 billion; most provisions, which were to expire Jan. 1, would be extended for two years, unless noted.

The package extends:

  • Lower rates for taxpayers at every income level. The top rate, on taxable income above $379,150, would stay at 35%, instead of increasing to 39.6%. The bottom rate, on taxable income below $8,500 for individuals and $17,000 for married couples, would stay at 10%, instead of increasing to 15%. Cost: $186.8 billion.
  • More generous itemized deductions for high-income households. Cost: $20.7 billion.
  • A more generous $1,000 child tax credit. Cost: $71.7 billion.
  • Marriage penalty relief, increasing the standard deduction for married couples. Cost: $18 billion.
  • A more generous Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families. Cost: $15.7 billion.
  • A series of tax breaks for students and their families, including interest deduction for student loans and an exemption for employer-provided educational assistance. Cost: $3.3 billion.
  • A deduction for tuition and related expenses for higher education, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $1.2 billion.
  • A tax credit of up to $2,500 for students' higher education expenses. Cost: $17.6 billion.
  • The top capital gains tax rate of 15%. Cost: $25.9 billion.
  • The top tax rate on dividends of 15%. Cost: $27.3 billion.
  • Through 2011, enhanced jobless benefits for people who have been unemployed for long stretches. Cost: $56.5 billion.
  • A series of incentives for selling, using and producing alternative fuels, including ethanol. Many of the provisions expired at the end of 2009. They would be extended through 2011. Cost: $11.3 billion.
  • A $250 deduction for out-of-pocket classroom expenses by teachers, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $390 million.
  • A federal income tax deduction for state and local sales taxes, taken mostly by people who live in the nine states without state income taxes, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $5.5 billion.
  • The ability of older Americans to withdraw up to $100,000 a year from Individual Retirement Accounts, tax-free, to donate to certain public charities, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $979 million.
  • A business tax credit for research and experimentation expenses, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $13.3 billion.
  • Tax breaks for capital improvements to restaurants and other retail buildings, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $3.6 billion.
  • A tax break for active investors in foreign-based banking, securities and insurance firms, for 2010 and 2011. Cost: $9.2 billion.
  • Increased depreciation and expensing for capital investments by businesses. Cost: $21.8 billion.

The package also:

  • Spares more than 20 million middle-income households from tax increases averaging $3,900 from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2010 and 2011. Cost: $136.7 billion.
  • Imposes a lower estate tax for the next two years, allowing couples to pass estates as large as $10 million to heirs tax-free. The balance would be taxed at 35 percent. Cost: $68.1 billion.
  • Provides a one-year Social Security tax cut for all wage earners, from 6.2% to 4.2%. Cost: $112 billion.

Source: Joint Committee on Taxation.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Dec 17, 2010 5:59PM

Great news Social Security tax reduced for workers from 6.2% to 4.2 %.


 Maybe that is not such a good idea.


The problem is we still have to pay the Social Security tab down the road. The system is unstable and by taking away some of its funding we will have to print and pay later. That seems to be the way of the world print and pay later.

Dec 17, 2010 3:50PM

I think that some people actually need the UC benefits - husband who was laid off gov't job staying home to take care of wife who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer . I thought it was only available if you worked enough in a certain period of time and your previous job doesn't deny the claim?? Anyways, I think that they should kick the folks who have been on welfare for 3+ years, NEVER tried to get a job and continue to keep having children! You want to save some money, that's where you go. Half those folks lied to get it and they probably make more than the average working individual. My monthly income has been reduced to less than half with taxes and medical coverage! I have 2 kids and I never make any money back at the end of the year and yet those folks who haven't worked and are on assistance, claim 8 kids and they walk away with a check that could pay 1 yr of private high school. I understand that jobs are scarce and Iunderstand that everyone could use a little help once in a while but some of these folks just abuse the system and the gov't doesn't see it????

Dec 17, 2010 3:35PM
HOLY CRAP!!! Mike, SERIOUSLY. You would want the government to forcefully take money from someone who earned it, because they are rich and give it to you so you could stay on unemployment for SIX MORE YEARS or a total of EIGHT YEARS? Seriously, you should be ashamed of yourself and your work ethic. No wonder you haven't yet found a job. You may want to really think that over. This is a serious critique. I'm not just poking fun.
Dec 17, 2010 2:04PM
For the people who say tax the hell out of the wealthy...had the tax cuts expired, someone making $379k/yr would have their taxes increased by about $18,500/yr.  That's not exactly a trivial amount, and the fact that they can afford it should not make a difference.  People are quick to point their finger to the wall street execs who take home tens of millions each year.  To hell with them, you can tax them at 90% and they'll still be fine.  However, for each one of these individuals, there are thousands of doctors, lawyers, engineers, CPAs, small business owners, etc. who still are "wealthy" by most standards, and have gotten that way ethically and legally.  Why should these people have to fork over the price of a new car every year in additional taxes?  I for one applaud the extension of the tax cuts.    
Dec 17, 2010 4:42PM
Why is there a tax break for investors in foregn based banking, securities and insurance firms?  I do not agree with this provision AT ALL!
Dec 17, 2010 2:35PM
Mike, maybe your attitude is the reason that you are unemployed.  Are you saying that you expect the rich to fund your unemployment for 6 years? 
Dec 17, 2010 3:53PM
In my opinion...I don't understand what is wrong with my post that makes it look like an automated message???  or spam??? Let the readers decide if they can figure out why it keeps being blocked. I can't! Hello, do you o****ect to #s or facts?
There is a lot wrong with this bill.
Did I read this correctly?
Wealthy get 92% of their income from capital gains and dividends and those are taxed at 15%!!!
"More generous itemized deductions for high income households"!!!
Come on least be a little embarrassed.

(When my post has facts in them they are accused of being spam.)
The fact is I read and do research to learn what is really going on! This is not automated or spam, it's my info.

Dec 17, 2010 2:41PM


Dec 17, 2010 4:30PM

Im amused at the bipartisan  LOONS attacking Mike.


The problem is CONGRESS!


They should of learned long ago to establish  Unemployment in such a way as to offer incentives to find work sooner rather then later.  Various ways to do that...


But, even if you wanted to,  McDonalds wont take you on because they get tax incentives to hire people that need to learn a work responsibility. Another Congress screwup.


Ive tried to get WA State to fix the flaws in their system when I ended up there after a near fatal accident. But, like Congress,  deaf ears bought off by special interests rule Olympia.


Focus on the real target and change our flawed democracy.  Maybe to TRIBAL ELDERS who serve single 5yr terms for only 7months/year, chosen from among the retired on Soc Sec: those who lived in the REAL WORLD!




PS to mike:  make use of Craigslist Resume section...

Dec 17, 2010 4:30PM
I am glad that they extended the unemployment. I have been unemployed since July 2010. For those of you that have not looked for a job lately, eveything is done online now. There is no driving around and knocking on doors. I have applied for 73 jobs on line and only had 2 face-to-face interviews. I have also had 3 over the phone pilminary interviews. There are jobs being advertised, but there are so many people looking that you don't have a chance. I am frustrated. I want to work and I made cuts in my living expenses so that I could live on half of what I was making. I don't agree with the rich getting tax cuts either. But they do pay their far share. Why can't some of them look to see what they can do to help with the unemployment rates? We need to work together to get out of this mess.
Dec 17, 2010 6:09PM

This is supposed to be the worst recession in 80yrs.  What makes you think that Mike is any different then the recession so long ago.


Having run a convenience store in a low income neighborhood in Portland,  I learned the reality of how it works for those who keep America moving as labor and managers making  less then $10/hr.


Now they are also talking about dunning taxpayers for that extra $8/wk they got to keep in their paychecks.

So, reducing SSec taxes will also likely to come back to get them the following year.


Again, Congress is the problem.  Not the MIKEs of the US.



Dec 17, 2010 3:05PM

If you cannot find work after 99 weeks, I am sorry.  Join the Armed Forces, or get a job at McDonalds.  Unemployment was not meant to be welfare for the able bodied. 


What will we do in a yeasr, extend it to a 4 year vacation?   So many people leech off the rest of us.  I am sorry but after 2 years, you are a leech...


Probably a democrart too...

Dec 17, 2010 3:09PM
Dec 17, 2010 2:58PM
Mike, I love how you're on here bashing the government saying that its not for the people when you've been collecting unemployment checks from them for two years now.  I'm not particularly fond of alot of things the government does either, but if this was 100 years ago, you'd be on the streets.  Get a clue man.   
Dec 17, 2010 3:48PM
How about unemployment goes on as is, except for every month you are unemployed past 6 months, your benefit decreases by $100.oo. Then the folks who want the free ride will have to actually get a job eventually. The good citizens will find a decent job within 6 months anyway.
Dec 17, 2010 5:01PM
I'm really sorry but I see "help wanted" signs all the time, but its in jobs that people don't want to work.  I see them in the mall, McDonald's, CVS, etc.  I work two jobs, a full time and a part time job.  The part time is a retail job.  I can honestly say I work 3x as hard at the retail job as I do my full time job and I get paid 3x less.  So basically, I believe it is much easier to sit back and get a check (welfare or unemployment) rather than work the lower paying jobs.  Really, why work your butt off if you can get a check from the Government.  Maybe these individuals are onto something.  Maybe all of us hard working individuals should stop working and get a check.  Oh my..who then would actually pay for your lazy butts??!! This whole country is messed up!!!
Dec 17, 2010 5:14PM



Better think before commenting next time

Your attitude speaks for why you are unemployed

McDonalds is not a bad place to work!!!!

Mike, I bet if your free money (unemployment) was cut off you would have a job in short order.
Dec 17, 2010 3:34PM

Income is not a cost.  The only cost is jobless benefits.  Government needs to end entitlement benefits.  I did not work my butt off to give to others through taxes.  I gave more to charity last year then VP Biden, but made significantly less.  I don't mind helping others out, but I don't want to do it through my taxes.


Mike,  I would not hire for one reason: You have been unemployed for two years. Sorry!

Dec 17, 2010 6:27PM
It's no longer government for the people, it's now government for the rich and special interests!


Better add, and the people who want something for nothing.


Us working class just pay in

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