WASHINGTON (AP) — Big tax increases will hit millions of families and businesses a lot sooner than many realize if Congress and the White House don't agree on a plan to avoid the year-end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and government spending cuts at the start of 2013.
In fact, they already have.
More than 70 tax breaks enjoyed by individuals and businesses expired at the end of 2011. If Congress doesn't extend them retroactively, H &R Block says a typical middle-class family could get a $4,000 tax increase when it files its 2012 return in the spring.
Businesses also might lose dozens of tax breaks they've enjoyed for years, including generous credits covering research and development costs and write-offs for restaurants and retail stores that expand or upgrade.