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The Four Horsemen of the Tax-Hike Apocalypse

If Congress doesn't get its act together and prevent the looming tax hike, 2011 could be a very, very bad year.

That's what Andrew Moylan of the National Taxpayers Union reports in the current issue of
Townhall Magazine. If you're a current subscriber, you've likely read (and re-read) this powerful look at the coming tax-hike Doomsday.

Here's an excerpt from our exclusive report "The Four Horsemen of the Tax-Hike Apocalypse."

If Congress doesn’t act soon to prevent the largest tax hike in our country’s history, Times Square may echo with the sound of dejected groans instead of jubilant cheers when midnight strikes Dec. 31, 2010. That’s because a wide range of relief provisions that every American who pays income taxes has enjoyed over the past few years is scheduled to expire, leading to upwards of $3 trillion in heavier tax burdens.

Amidst all the political jousting between Democrats and Republicans, the details of precisely how these hikes will affect individuals and their wallets may have become a little muddled. In order to cut through any confusion, what follows is a guide to the “four horsemen of the tax hike apocalypse” and the weapons that they wield in their fight for higher taxes. ...

Horseman Jumbo: If Congress doesn’t act to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax rates, income taxes will go up across the board, reaching every single person who pays them. The 10 percent bracket, which currently covers all income up to about $8,400 for a single individual, will be eliminated entirely. In its place will be an expanded 15 percent bracket. The current 25, 28 and 33 percent brackets would all rise three percentage points each to 28, 31 and 36 percent respectively. The now-highest bracket of 35 percent would rise to 39.6 percent. ...

Horseman Dow: The investment tax hikes he brings would seriously undermine our stock market and with it millions of investors. The current top capital gains tax rate of 15 percent will rise to 20 percent, allowing government to take a third more than it does now. Meanwhile, the top dividends tax rate will climb all the way from 15 percent to 39.6 percent, a tax bite more than two and a half times that of current law. These hikes will increase the unjust tax penalty on dollars that have already been hit with income taxes before the money was even invested. ...

Horseman Grim Reaper: As if the pain of losing a loved one is not enough, the re-imposition of the death tax would cause further discomfort by threatening families with huge tax bills. The estate tax had been slowly phased out to zero this year, meaning that anyone who passes away today owes nothing in taxes. But on Jan. 1, 2011, those who left behind estates worth more than $1 million will pay a 55 percent top tax rate. According to a study by the American Family Business Institute, imposition of a 55 percent death tax could cost our economy more than 1.3 million jobs. ...

Horseman Stealth: The higher taxes on families that are his weapon tend to be obscured in the current debate. While the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were primarily meant to reduce tax rates, they also made several important changes to tax credits and deductions that affect families deeply—and whose expiration will hurt all the more. For example, the child tax credit will only be half its current amount of $1,000, decreasing to $500 in 2011. The dependent care tax credit will be reduced from a maximum credit rate of 35 percent down to 30 percent. The so-called “marriage penalty” will come back with vengeance. ...

There is some good news, however. Congress can stop this assault in its tracks right now by passing permanent extensions of the 2001 and 2003 tax laws. Then we can all look upon the dropping of the ball in Times Square with glee, safe in the knowledge that the “four horsemen of the tax hike apocalypse” won’t be coming to trample us.

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