If Congress fails to address the alternative minimum tax, millions of households could see their federal 2012 tax bills jump.
For months, Americans have been watching the presidential political drama play out nightly on the news. Now, with President Obama's victory, that story is ending.
But for the economy, an action thriller is just beginning.
Congress has just weeks to jump to the rescue of an economy moving closer and closer to the so-called fiscal cliff. That phrase refers to a $600 billion cluster of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes — all coming together at year's end.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Simpson, Bowles - the names flew by eight times, without explanation, during Wednesday's presidential debate. Google reported that Simpson-Bowles was among the most searched-for terms online that night. The reference was to Republican elder statesman Alan Simpson and his Democratic counterpart, Erskine Bowles. The two headed a 2010 commission on the national debt.
After studying details of the tax changes now set to take effect for 2013, the researchers were struck by "how big the tax increase is," said Eric Toder, one of those researchers. "It's a huge, huge number."