We Have a Tentative Deal: Details

An initial look at the pact struck between McConnell and the White House

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 31, 2012 9:42 PM CST

(Newser) – The White House and Mitch McConnell have reached a tentative deal tonight, though the New York Times reports that the House won't vote on the measure tonight in time to avoid the fiscal cliff. The measure would raise taxes by about $600 billion over 10 years and delay for two months across-the-board spending cuts otherwise set to begin slashing the budgets of the Pentagon and numerous domestic agencies. Highlights:

  • Income tax rates: Extends tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6%, up from the current 35%. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000.

  • Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40%, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35%.
  • Capital gains, dividends: Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15% to 20%.
  • Alternative minimum tax: Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000.
  • Other tax changes: Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and an up to $2,500 tax credit for college tuition.
  • Unemployment benefits: Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year.
  • Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors: Blocks a 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula.
  • Social Security payroll tax cut: Allows a 2-percentage point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2%.
  • Across-the-board cuts: Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rules changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks toward the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks toward the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, as fiscal cliff negotiations continued.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, as fiscal cliff negotiations continued.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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