You followed all of the debate over the fiscal cliff and were relieved to hear that taxes were only going up for the rich this year.
Well, you were wrong.
Because neither party wanted to defend it, the temporary payroll tax cut enacted under Obama died at the end of 2012, which means that everyone in the country will see a bigger tax bite out of their paychecks this year. So when you get your first check of the year, look at the amount charged under "FICA" – you're going to be paying more than you did in December.
How big a bite is it? For many middle class workers, it will work out to a trip to the grocery store or a tank of gas less every two weeks this year.
Here are the numbers.
For a single person making $60,000 per year who's paid bi-weekly, gross income in a paycheck is $2,307.69.
In December, you would have had to subtract from that federal withholding taxes of $403. 56. FICA taxes were $96.93. Medicare was $33.46. State withholding for a person living in Maryland was $177.35.
That gives the taxpayer net pay in one check in December of $1,596.39.
So what happens this month?
Gross pay is the same, as are the Medicare and state taxes. But FICA taxes go up sharply – to $143.08. That's a $46.15 bite from the political decision to allow the payroll tax cut to expire.
But here's the good news – federal withholding from this paycheck are down by about 4 bucks, to $399.18, due to the way the federal government calculates inflation.
That gives our taxpayer net pay of $1,554.62, or $41.77 less than he or she made for each paycheck in December. And that's money that could have gone to that bag of groceries or tank of gas.