How Would Fiscal Cliff Affect A Typical Family?

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Richard Morrison, 202-464-5102

How Would the Fiscal Cliff Affect Typical Families Across the Country?
Impacts Calculated Using

Washington, D.C., December 11, 2012—The impact of expiring "fiscal cliff" provisions in the tax code would hit families across the country and in all income groups, constituting an overnight tax increase that could consume over 8% of their total income, according to a new analysis by the Tax Foundation. Both high and low income groups would see larger increases than middle-income taxpayers, with urban areas as different as Stamford, Connecticut and McAllen, Texas among the top areas affected.

Dramatic changes to both tax and spending policy at the federal level are scheduled to take place at the end of the current year unless Congress acts. On the tax side, the most significant changes are the expiration of Bush-era income tax cuts and provisions relating to the Alternative Minimum Tax, which will increase liabilities nationwide. When ranked by city, the heaviest impacts will fall in Texas, Georgia, Oregon, and Arizona, with metropolitan areas in Arizona, California and Virginia filling out the top ten.

"We found that higher and lower income areas tended to be affected more than middle income areas—higher income areas from changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax and lower income areas from the Bush tax cuts," said Tax Foundation analyst and programmer Nick Kasprak.

Starting with data from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Tax Foundation estimated the increased tax burden for the median four-person family in each of 366 urban areas using the Fiscal Cliff Tax Calculator, available online at

Metropolitan areas at the top of the list for fiscal cliff impact include College Station-Bryan, Texas (media income $38,292) and Corvallis, Oregon (media income $39,775), but also Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey (media income $110,065), Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Massachusetts (media income $106,326) and the Washington, D.C. urban area (media income $115,519).

Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact No. 346, "How Would the Fiscal Cliff Affect Typical Families Across the Country?" by Nick Kasprak is available here.

The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan research organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. To schedule an interview, please contact Richard Morrison, the Tax Foundation’s Manager of Communications, at 202-464-5102 or [email protected].

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