Fiscal cliff debate: some tax increases avoided but others added - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Fiscal cliff debate: some tax increases avoided, others added

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

There is a lot to be happy about following last night's bi-partisan vote to indefinitely continue the Bush-era tax cuts.  This means that anyone making less than $400,000 a year will not be subjected to an increase in their income taxes.  The vote also took certain cost-cutting measures off the table that would have been potentially harmful to the Columbus region.

"They did not allow the immediate budget cuts that we were all concerned about.  The sequestration that everyone has been talking about would have possibly had a great impact on Fort Benning, and reduced spending related to Fort Benning, possibly some jobs," said Columbus mayor, Teresa Tomlinson.

However, one item that appears to have been lost in the shuffle is the expiration of a "tax holiday" on social security.  Ever since 2011, we've been paying two percent less to the fund out of our paychecks, but now the holiday is over.

"That expired December 31 and was no renewed.  So that will cost everyone who receives a paycheck extra taxes out of their checks, so they will bring home a little less money," said Columbus Human Resources Director, Tom Barron.

"Anyone receiving pay, that's on a regular payroll is going to see that tax move from 4.2 to 6.2 percent.  I think the thought process was in dealing with our social security system, they needed the additional revenue, but again, I think had there been more time taken, perhaps the holiday could have been extended before we moved in or maybe phased it out before going immediately to where it was."

These social security increases don't just affect the wealthiest Americans; they will be charged to everyone who is employed. That means the person who makes $30,000 a year will see about $50 taken from their pay per month while someone making $50,000 will pay $83 per month.

While the bill required many republican votes to pass, none of them came from Georgia or Alabama. Lynn Westmoreland, a republican congressman from Georgia, said, "I don't think the American people want us to come up here and talk about cutting spending as a party, and then pass a bill that is 40 to 1 to spend it. So that was the biggest dilemma here."

Legislators will meet again in March to discuss more of the spending issues that were put off to vote the latest bill through.

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D) said, "In the upcoming weeks, Congress will have to come together on the debt ceiling, government spending, sequestration, tax reform, as well as controlling the growth in entitlements. Now, more than ever, it is vital that Congress puts our country ahead of partisanship and discharges its responsibilities to solve these urgent issues. The American people deserve no less."

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