The following are six ways you can keep Santa’s sleigh from plummeting off the fiscal cliff and celebrate the holiday spirit by giving to others:
Medicare: There is a popular push to spare Medicare any fundamental changes — à la Paul Ryan’s voucher program. However, nothing is guaranteed in the current atmosphere of divisiveness. In the last budget negotiations, during which John Boehner and the president talked Medicare, raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 was suggested. That means grandma is going to hobble to Frisch’s on her bad hip for pumpkin pie and coffee with the girls for two more years. So what can we do? Buy an elderly person the Hurrycane™ (yes, this is an actual product). Its tripod design is ideal for navigating the rubble of bridges and wheelchair ramps that will no doubt begin crumbling on Jan. 1, and its foldable shaft provides for quick stashing in a purse or suitcase in the event those grinchy death panels begin the yuletide hunt for the sick and infirm a few years early.
Self-Employment Tax: Since the housing market went bust in 2008, real estate agents and construction contractors haven’t had much to be thankful for. After the fiscal cliff, there will be even less gravy in their boats if the 2 percent self-employment tax cut expires.
Load up their plates with commission and rehab work by buying a historic Cincinnati home. And don’t forget the wedding planners and DJs. They’ve been eating nothing but stuffing and carrot cake for the past four years. Then, in the spirit of the Native Wampanoags who shared gourds and venison with the pilgrims, offer your newly rehabbed residence to host wedding receptions for free. They definitely won’t betray your trust and take everything you own after you’ve invited them in.
Payroll Tax: When this tax-cut expires the average worker will also be paying 2 percent more. While the range of clock-puncher salary varies dramatically, this 2 percent could infringe substantially on things that the American worker needs. If you don’t pay the payroll tax (i.e. you are neither an employee nor employer) then spice up some lucky guy’s day and buy him an egg nog or pumpkin spice coffee. We’re tired, man! We need caffeine and weird novelty flavored refreshments, and we already spent next week’s check on $50 boxes of Twinkies.
Surtax on Unearned Income: Those singles earning more than $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $250,000 will have to pay an additional 3.8 percent tax on dividends, interest, capital gains and rental properties to the Medicare system. This will obviously affect some companies located in the finer sections of town, which you probably don’t visit. As a result of this surtax, this holiday season could be marked by the bittersweet aroma of fine tobacco shop owners forced to smoke their delicious unsold product, country clubs peddling memberships in neighborhoods with duplexes and Russian models walking around aimlessly looking for someone to marry. Your pooling of money with a few coworkers, neighbors or drinking buddies to buy a few luxury products will be the sprinkle of 24K gold flakes on some lucky bowler-hat retailer’s, monocle manufacturer’s or Russian model’s crème broulee this Thanksgiving.
Defense Cuts: In 2013, Scrooge will be cutting his donations to the military banquet. So Lockheed Martin and the United States military-industrial complex would be ever so grateful if you’d just buy an F-35 stealth fighter and give it to the United States armed forces. The upside of this is that Norway took part in the fighter’s development program, which will make it accessible to their military as well. That means you could buy one for Santa Claus, who would surely take advantage of its stealth capabilities by delivering presents to all the good little boys and girls the world round. God bless us everyone.
Child Tax Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit: Both of these credits will revert back to their lower values in 2013 if we shuffle off the fiscal cliff. This means less money for low-income families with children and less money for low-income college students. Stuff the stockings of any low-wage workers you see working these holidays. Fast food workers, big-box greeters, retail workers and convenience store cashiers don’t make Jack Frost! So slip them a few extra dollars when partaking in your ill-timed holiday purchases. They are there because you were too lazy to buy your stuff yesterday.
CONTACT JEFF BEYER: firstname.lastname@example.org