ATRA 2012 buoys financial system, raises payroll tax by 2% - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

ATRA 2012 buoys financial system, raises payroll tax by 2%

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Amarillo, TX - The congressional compromise that staved off the "fiscal cliff" for a while also made some major changes to the U.S. tax code.  In many respects, the compromise, officially known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, was a stopgap measure - a band-aid meant to buy some time. 

And in all fairness, ATRA 2012 granted a slew of extensions and renewals to the U.S. tax code to keep the country's financial engine running - without it, that engine could have stopped.

So while both Washington and the American taxpayers can breathe easy for now, your tax refund may be a little later than you'd hoped, and your paychecks may be a little lighter.

Because of the sheer scale of the changes, refunds may be a little slow in coming as the financial system adapts to those changes, but the amount of your refund will remain unchanged.

"Typically, it takes a while for all of the machinery to go into motion after the end of the year," explains Samuel B. Lovelady, a certified public accountant in Amarillo, "but I don't think any of what has happened in the last week will impact refunds."

One of the most significant changes is the expiration of the payroll tax cut, which means the government will take an extra two percent from most Americans' incomes.  And the significance of that two percent varies, as Lovelady illustrates,

"You figure two percent of a $50,000 salary is $20 a week, and if that's the $20 that keeps gasoline in the tank, it can be very important.  On the other hand, if it's somebody with some flexibility in their budget, they probably won't notice it."

When I contacted the IRS, they gave me this statement:

"The IRS is currently reviewing the details of this week's tax legislation and assessing what impact it will have on this year's filing season.  The IRS will soon make available additional information on when taxpayers can start filing 2012 returns."

If you'd like a more in-depth breakdown of the changes, follow the links attached to this story.

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