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What You Need to Know About the Bipartisan Tax Agreement

Summary: 
The deal passed by an overwhelming majority in the Senate keeps income taxes low for the middle class and ensures that America will continue to invest in education, clean energy, and manufacturing to strengthen our economy and the middle class.

UPDATE: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was also passed by a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives on January 1, 2013.

President Obama has repeatedly called this a make-or-break moment for the middle class. That's why we worked with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to reach an agreement that keeps income taxes low for the middle class and helps to grow the economy. And as the President promised, millionaires and billionaires will also begin doing more to help pay down the deficit through a combination of permanent tax rate increases and reduced tax benefits. 

This is the first time in twenty years that a bipartisan agreement has increased tax rates on the wealthy. Additionally, this deal ensures that America will continue to invest in education, clean energy, and manufacturing to strengthen our economy and the middle class. 

As President Obama noted in a statement about the deal, while neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country. And the President looks forward to working with Republicans to reduce the deficit in a balanced and bipartisan way.

The agreement passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate last night permanently extends the middle-class tax cuts and also extends credits for working families. It provides additional measures to protect families and promote economic growth. The lower tax rates, an expanded Child Tax Credit, and marriage penalty relief  will provide certainty for 114 million households and together will prevent the typical family of four from seeing a $2,200 tax increase.

By raising income tax rates on the wealthiest and keeping taxes low for the middle class, it means we will now have the most progressive tax code in decades. The agreement also prevents two million people from losing unemployment insurance benefits in January by extending emergency UI benefits for one year.

The agreement avoids a 27 percent cut to reimbursements for doctors seeing Medicare patients for 2013 by fixing the sustainable growth rate formula through the end of next year (the “doc fix”). 

Tax credits that encourage the production of clean domestic energy, such as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), will be extended through the end of the year. And businesses will get to immediately write off 50 percent of capital investments made next year, helping to create jobs in manufacturing and other sectors.

The deal also postpones the sequester for two months, which will give Congress time to work on a balanced plan to prevent the automatic spending cuts that would threaten our national security and slash investments that build our economy. The postponement is paid for with $1 of revenue for every $1 of spending, with the spending balanced between defense and domestic: The agreement saves $24 billion, half in revenue and half from spending cuts which are divided equally between defense and nondefense. 

There’s more work to do to reduce the deficit, and President Obama is prepared to work with Congress to do it.  But this agreement builds on the $1 trillion in spending cuts the President has already signed into law.

Watch President Obama discuss the agreement from the White House Briefing Room

Read the Fact Sheet to learn more about the bipartisan tax agreement.