Families getting 'double whammy' as tax rules return to pre-pandemic normals

 January 31, 2023

A tax and financial expert is warning that families could get hit with a "double whammy" or worse as tax rules returned to pre-pandemic normals in 2022. 

It is the first year since the pandemic hit in 2020 that child tax credits reverted back to the $2,000 level from $3,000 or $3,600 in 2021, depending on the child's age and the household's income.

In addition, stimulus payments from the government have ended, with the last payment of $1,400 per person having occurred in 2021.

These two special provisions gave the average family of four up to an additional $12,800 that they will not get in 2022. And it's not just getting to keep more of their tax dollars--these credits and payments were given regardless of the taxes owed, so people with lower incomes paying no federal taxes were still able to get the money.

And that's not all

That's a big hit for families to absorb in 2023, as inflation remains at elevated levels and the country begins to feel the effects of what most people would call a recession.

"So 2023, unfortunately, is already shaping up to be quite a financial 1-2-3 punch for the average American family," Lynnette Khalfani-Cox told NPR. "Not only do we still have high inflation, but we've still got a crazy stock market and a lot of volatility, rising interest rates — all of which are contributing to layoffs."

But Khalfani-Cox said it's even worse than all of that for families with investments. If they or their advisers sold profitable stocks in 2022, they will have to pay capital gains taxes on them, even if their investments overall lost money.

"You know, I don't even know if it's a 1-2-3 whammy or like a 1-2-3-4-5," she said.

Use available resources

Khalfani-Cox said it was important to realize the impact these tax rule changes could have on how much people will owe in taxes, and to use all the tools at their disposal. Filing electronically is the best option for taxpayers getting a refund, since paper returns are backlogged and take longer to process.

She advise using available resources like IRS free-file, AARP Tax Aide services (not just for seniors), and getting an extension if more time is needed.

Even so, it will seem like an unfair situation to millions of taxpayers who end up owing more or getting a smaller refund than last year.

In reality, it is a return to normalcy as the government has finally stopped trying to "help" people who found themselves without jobs or a safety net during the pandemic.

Is there a way back?

It is unclear whether people really needed as much help as was provided, or whether all that help contributed to increases in demand for products and services that, together with the runaway government spending, caused much of the inflation we are now seeing.

Whether we can ever put the toothpaste back in the tube after all of that, only time will tell.

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