Unless Congress comes to terms on a deal before the 1st of next year, all Americans would see significant tax increases due to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts (among other tax reductions). Now the Obama administration is hinting that, should it happen, they won’t necessarily collect those higher tax rates for everyone.

The White House has the power to temporarily protect taxpayers from middle-class tax hikes even as upper income rates rise if Congress does nothing and all of the Bush-era tax rates expire in January.

Experts and lawmakers alike agree that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has the power to adjust how much is withheld from paychecks for tax purposes — for all taxpayers or just for some.

By doing so, Geithner could ensure paychecks reflect the White House position that wealthier taxpayers with annual income higher than $250,000 see their taxes rise. Geithner at the same time could leave withholding tables where they are for the middle class, ensuring those workers don’t see a higher cut from their paychecks.

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