Now that all the shouting has died down, we can take a more rational look at the new $98 million tax law to see just how it will affect you as an individual.
Perhaps the most important news is no news: The third increment of the tax cut established by the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981 was not touched and remains in place for 1983.
The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 will have surprisingly little direct impact on most taxpayers, despite the uproar that preceded passage.
There will be an increase in the "minimum tax" on individuals, but this will affect only those few people who have high incomes and little or no income tax liability.
The ceiling on corporate contributions to pension plans for high-salaried executives will be reduced somewhat -- which won't change anything for most of us.
Some of the tax breaks granted by ERTA to business through various investment incentives like accelerated depreciation have been reduced or taken away.
And there will be limitations on the sale of investment tax credits by companies that can't use the tax break to companies that can.
In 1983 federal employes and postal workers will start to pay the Medicare portion of the Social Security tax -- 1.3 percent of the first $35,100 in wages for a maximum of $456. In return, these employes will all be eligible for Medicare benefits.
For the next four years, airline passengers will pay an 8 percent tax, up from 5 percent.
On Jan. 1 a doubling of the present cigarette tax to 16 cents will add eight cents to the price of each pack. And the one percent tax on telephone service will go to 3 percent next year, with the entire tax scheduled for elimination after 1985.
Now we get to the income tax provisions. Starting in 1983 there will be a few changes in itemized deductions for those who use Schedule A:
* A deduction will be allowed for medical expenses only in excess of 5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI), up from the present 3 percent.
The separate deduction for half of health insurance premiums up to a $150 ceiling is eliminated. Premiums will have to be added to other medical expenses subject to the 5 percent rule.
* In addition to the present $100 "deductible" on casualty losses, only a net loss in excess of 10 percent of AGI may be claimed.
One of the most controversial provisions is the requirement for tax withholding on interest and dividend payments. This is simply an extension of "pay-as-you-go" taxation as it already applies to wages and salaries.
Small savers and investors will not be bothered by this rule, since the first $150 of interest or dividends from each payer will be exempt from withholding -- though not exempt from tax.
And provision will be made for low-income people and many elderly to request a waiver of withholding..
The withholding rule will not change anyone's tax liability. But it may change the amount of tax paid -- by those who have made it a habit to "overlook" interest and dividends when they report income on their tax returns.
Although the 10 percent withheld from each payment (after the first $150) will reduce the amount of money available for compounding, the difference in annual yield will be minimal.
And withholding may reduce the paperwork required of those who are honest about their income by eliminating the need for filing federal quarterly tax estimates (although 10 percent may not be enough to do the trick).
That's all, folks. No big deal for individuals -- some small reductions in itemized deductions for the less than half of all taxpayers who itemize, and "pay-as-you-go" withholding for some investors and savers.
All the rest of the excitement was generated by various business interests (and their lobbyists) who were understandably upset at the loss of some tax breaks they got just last year.