What Happens If The Bush Tax Cuts Expire On January 1st 2011?

I‘ve written about the Bush tax cuts several times on this site, mainly wondering if they’ll be renewed, and how if they’re not renewed the tax rates will go up for everyone who pays taxes (not just the wealthy).

Today I thought I’d take a look at what exactly will happen on January 1st if they’re not renewed.

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Immediate Impact Of Tax Cuts Expiring

If the Bush tax cuts aren’t renewed for everyone, there will be several immediate impacts.

Tax Rates Go Up

the tax rates will go up for everyone who pays taxes.    According to CNNMoney.com, you could see less in your paycheck as early as your first paycheck of the year!

If the tax cuts do expire and tax rates go up, you may notice the difference in your wallet as early as January, when your employer starts to withhold more taxes from your paycheck.  The Tax Policy Center estimates that a married couple with two kids under 13 and a household income of roughly $75,000 could end up paying about $2,600 more in federal income taxes next year than they would if the tax cuts were extended.

While both parties have stated that they want to renew at least some of the tax cuts, nobody has made it happen yet.  The parties disagree as to which of the cuts to extend, and even within the parties themselves there is disagreement.

So what will the tax rates look like under different scenarios – with all of the tax cuts expiring, or with only some expiring?  Here are what the marginal tax rates will look like if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire either for everyone, or just for some.

If No Tax Cuts Are Renewed
2011 Tax BracketSingleMarried Filing Jointly
15% Bracket$0 - $8,500$0 - $17,000
15% Bracket$8,500 - $34,550$17,000 - $57,700
28% Bracket$34,550- $83,700$57,700 - $139,500
31% Bracket$83,700 - $174,650$139,500 - $212,600
36% Bracket$174,650 - $379,650$212,600 - $379,650
39.6% Bracket$379,650+$379,650+
If Tax Cuts Are Renewed For Some (Obama's Plan)
2011 Tax BracketsSingleMarried Filing Jointly
10% Bracket$0 - $8,425$0 - $16,850
15% Bracket$8,426 - $34,200$16,851 - $68,400
25% Bracket$34,201 - $82,850$68,401 - $138,050
28% Bracket$82,851 - $192,000$138,051 - $232,950
36% Bracket$192,001 - $375,700$232,951 - $375,700
39.6% Bracket$375,700+$375,700+
Current 2010 Tax Rates
2010 Tax BracketSingleMarried Filing Jointly
10% Bracket$0 - $8,375$0 - $16,750
15% Bracket$8,375 - $34,000$16,750 - $68,000
25% Bracket$34,000 - $82,400$68,000 - $137,300
28% Bracket$82,400 - $171,850$137,300 - $209,250
33% Bracket$171,850 - $373,650$209,250 - $373,650
35% Bracket$373,650+$373,650+

Child Tax Credit

Another provision of the Bush tax cuts that will expire is that child tax credit.  It will drop from $1,000 to $500 per child if it isn’t renewed.   There will also be tougher eligibility standards in order to claim this credit.

Capital Gains/Qualified Dividends

With the tax cuts expiring, the long term capital gains and qualitified dividend tax rates would increase from a maximum of 15%.   Capital gains would then be taxed at a maximum of 20%,  and qualified dividends would be taxed at the regular rate of the tax filer, which could be as high as 39.6%.

Marriage Penalty

The provision that gave a married couple filing joint a standard deduction that was twice that of a single person would expire if not renewed.

Return of Phase-Out Rule for Itemized Deductions

The Bush tax cuts put in place a rule that allowed higher income individuals to itemize deductions.  If the cuts expire, the phase-out rule could eliminate up to 80% of a higher-income individual’s itemized deductions for mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable donations.  If you itemize and have adjusted gross income above about $170,000 ($85,000 if you use married filing separate status), this phase-out rule will once again take effect.


In the end, if the tax cuts and side provisions aren’t renewed and extended, we’ll all be seeing an increase in our taxes next year.  If only some of them are renewed, some of us will.  Here’s to hoping that congress and the administration can put aside their differences and get something done.

What are your thoughts on the Bush tax cuts, and whether they should expire?  Would you be willing to pay more if they don’t get something done?  Do you think they will?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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I’m a thirty-something Christian Midwestern father of one son, and have been happily married for 9 years to my beautiful wife. I love playing tennis, shooting hoops, or taking part in the occasional flag football game. Of course, I love writing and financial topics as well, and that's how this site came into being! Check me out on Google +!

Last Edited: 15th September 2010


    Share Your Thoughts:

    • says

      It appears to me like Pres. Obama’s plan, to renew all the tax cuts for the first $250,000 of income, would keep the taxes from going up on 98 percent of Americans. Mrs. Money, you can rest easy.

  1. Erich says

    I think there just going to let things go. Where going to pay higher tax,help rich peope get out of there screw ups.Let the banks keep going tell they run us into the dirt.When is people going to stop this madness in the white house take it back. An put people that don’t listen too the people out of there. If not we won’t be the land of the free.

  2. Colleen says

    I guess I wont be buying that new car this year…. the more they tax the less I can spend and help the economy…. when will it end

  3. Donna L from Bemidji says

    My taxes won’t change if the tax cuts expire. The only thing that will is the marriage penalty. But I’m not working so we only have one income. I don’t think it would be a big deal. Even with an increase of 3% in taxes, a single person earning $34,000 a year will only see an increase of $85.00 a month in their taxes. Small price to pay for an increase in the tax rate for the richest american’s. I don’t see what the big deal is. Let the tax rates increase, just change some of the deduction’s allowed and let’s get to work on re-writing the tax code so it’s equitable for everyone!!!

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