Don’t Forget to do a Little Math…

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Once the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election was decided and the “lessons learned” was dissected, the media quickly moved on to the next hot item they could promote:  the ‘fiscal cliff’ discussion. Over the last few weeks, we repeatedly hear both Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to come together and compromise to help address America’s financial future.

A big part of this discussion is whether to let the Bush tax cuts expire on those families earning more than $250,000 per year. As this is discussed in the media or when talking with family or friends about this issue, are there some viewers who don’t know what this actually represents? Are there some who think their family tax rate will increase on all the money you make once you exceed the $250,000 level? This appears to have many residents running scared and thinking about spending less with the impending tax hike. This proposed tax increase is continually mentioned in the media and often without a full explanation on what this tax increase means in actuality.

While listening to a podcast the other day, I was amused to hear one Louisiana small business owner say that she may close up her small business the last few weeks of this year (2012) to avoid the tax hike. Seriously? Breathe people. Breathe. First, no tax increases have been decided yet as both parties are engaged in positioning and preliminary negotiations about spending cuts and tax increases. Second, regarding taxing those families earning more than $250,000, if the Bush tax hike were to be implemented, the new rate would only apply to the income that exceeds $250,000.

In addition, if passed, the tax increase would not apply until 2013 so that small business owner in the bayou doesn’t have to fret about a tax increase this year at the federal level. Hence, she can continue to work her small business throughout the rest of the year.

Sometimes, the media will throw around terms without properly defining them. Is the fiscal cliff discussion and the proposed tax increase (on an individual earning above $200,000 and a family earning more than $250,000) explained clearly and on a regular basis? If not so much, would math equations as examples be beneficial to those who are wondering how this would look?

A few years ago, I didn’t completely understand the proposed tax increase and it was only after I did peel the onion and asked follow up questions did I understand the proposed change. The muddy and murky water washed away my confusion about this tax increase and in came clear, spring water.

Information is power and having full understanding of that information and able to use it is invaluable.

Some of us are news junkies and in a face-paced culture with instant news, there’s so much focus on the story when sometimes the specifics are not clearly explained to viewers. Therefore, even though it might appear to be redundant, it’s important for those in the media to take time to explain the items being covered to help us become better-informed viewers. Would you agree with that assessment?