'Fiscal cliff' increase to payroll taxes hurt lower income workers

Super King Market employee Aaron Cortes says the 2 percent increase in the social security payroll tax will make it harder for him to save money for college tuition.
Super King Market employee Aaron Cortes says the 2 percent increase in the social security payroll tax will make it harder for him to save money for college tuition. KPCC/ Wendy Lee

The "fiscal cliff" has been averted, but many Southern Californians still have to deal with smaller paychecks and less disposable income. Employees will fork out more money for social security payroll taxes and deal with a quarter percent increase in the state sales tax.

Grocery store employee Aaron Cortes said the tax increases will make it harder for him to become a full-time student at Glendale Community College. Cortes has been working at Super King Market in Altadena to help pay for his tuition.

He earns about $13,000 a year, but the increase in payroll taxes will take out $260 more from his salary. Tuition for a part-time student at Glendale Community College can cost up to $800 per semester, Cortes said.

“I’m trying to go to full-time, but…I have to work to pay for school, so it’s not like I can just go to school,” Cortes said.

The 2 percent increase in social security payroll taxes will impact many Southern California workers, especially those with lower wages. The increase in the state’s sale tax isn’t helping either. The sales tax will go up a quarter of a percent to 7.5 percent.

Cortes, 20, said he’s considering looking for a better paying job. In the meantime, he also plans to cook more at home and save money when he can.

“I need to earn more money and now with the $260 you’re telling me, I have to start thinking about what I want to do with my life,” Cortes said.

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