Fear not, money experts say about the fiscal cliff

Posted at 6:05 PM, Dec 28, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - It won't be so bad. That's what Utah payroll and stock experts tell Fox 13 about the so-called "fiscal cliff."

The President and Congress may come to a deal averting the cliff entirely, but even if they extend talks into the new year, they say payrolls won't see an immediate impact and the stock market can take it.

Orlando Williams, president of Utah-based National Payroll Systems doesn't minimize the problem. He says in his 33 years as a payroll manager, he's never gone into a new year with no federal tax tables.

So what does he do? "We're going to run on last years tax tables," Williams says.

So income taxes won't change in the short-term, but social security taxes will go up. That's because a payroll tax "holiday" goes away.

"The law ends on the 31st of December that drops the employee social security rate down to 4.2 percent, so as of the first of January the employee social security rate will go up to 6.2 percent," Williams said.

For the Utah family earning the median income of $65,000, that would mean a $1,300 increase.

As for stocks, Wells Fargo advisor Steve Slatter says the market can handle a short-term bump.

"Our view is the market can absorb bad news. It dislikes uncertainty," Slatter said.

Uncertainty is plentiful right now, but Slatter says the political stalemate is likely to break because all sides have reason to get something done.

He says fear is the real enemy in a situation like this.

"I think the risk of taking the short-term actions based on the fear generated by this kind of event is that you miss out on the long-term," Slatter said. "[The fiscal cliff] is unfortunate and it wouldn't be good, but we're not talking Armageddon."