Taxpayers fear fiscal cliff as Congress heads back to work

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wwltv.com

Posted on December 28, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS - Members of Congress are cutting short their holiday break to get back to Washington in a last ditch effort to avert massive tax hikes and to keep government from going over the so called "fiscal cliff."

If Congress fails to act by December 31, all taxpayers are expected to see an increase come January 1.

Taxpayers in New Orleans are worried.

"I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful that they can get whatever they need to do done," said one taxpayer.

Another said, "The president and Congress got to come up with a solution because time is running out."

Here's how the fiscal cliff effects the average worker.

More than two-thirds of the poorest Americans, who make less than $20,000 a year would see their taxes increase by an average of nearly $600.

Middle-income workers who earn between $40,000 and $64,000 would see an increase of nearly $2,000.

Richer folks who earn more than $108,000 would face an increase of nearly $13,000.

With a deadline looming, the partisan divide in Congress is vast.

Congressman Steve Scalise, R-LA, blames the president.

"President Obama has taken a very partisan approach, calling for tax increases on some and trying to divide people," said Scalise.

Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-LA blames the GOP leadership.

"As a Democrat, I'm saying we're going to ask a little bit more from the wealthy in this country," said Richmond.

There is one area of potential compromise when Congress gets back to work on Monday.

Most lawmakers agree people making less than $250,000 should be sheltered from tax increases.

"What we're saying is if we set it at $250,000, 98 percent of the country will get a tax break," said Richmond.

"Then, there are are people like myself that don't want to see anybody have a tax increase," said Scalise.

Senate leaders say they hope to reach a compromise that could be presented to lawmakers by Sunday, little more than 24 hours before the deadline.

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