Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Emergency Benefits for Unemployed

President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act (H.R. 8) on January 1, 2013 extending federally-funded emergency unemployment insurance benefits for one year.  Congress passed the bill by a vote of 257-167 late on January 1.

The fiscal cliff legislation extends the emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program through December 31, 2013, which originally was enacted as part of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (and has already  been extended several times).  Provisions of the Department of Labor’s extended benefits (EB) program also make it easier for workers in high-unemployment states to qualify for benefits for one more year.

Additionally, the fiscal cliff legislation raises tax rates on the highest earners and enacts dozens of tax cuts for individuals and businesses.  The legislation will permanently maintain the reduced 2001 and 2003 tax rates for individuals earning up to $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples), while allowing income above that to be taxed at rates of up to 39.6%.

This comes as welcome news, particularly for the 9.8% of Californians currently unemployed and their families. 

By Lisl Duncan

Legal Developments