Featuring Stephen M. Breitstone and published Nov. 25, 2012.
Forget the fiscal cliff.
The Big Apple’s own $1.1 trillion economy has already toppled over the edge into an unprecedented tax purgatory that’s driving experts batty.
With tax laws set to implode Dec. 31, accountants, tax lawyers, estate planners and academics are frantic because their usual year-end tax-season rush is all but canceled.
“Almost every kind of financial transaction is already tied up right now if it involves taxes,” said tax policy attorney Stephen Breitstone.
“You can’t even prepare taxes for 2012. The IRS computers aren’t working because no one knows what the tax structure is for 2012,” Breitstone explains.
“Tax forms were printed back in August and appear to be worthless now. You can’t even use your TurboTax or other personal tax software; who knows what the rules will be?”
Adding to the gloom, Breitstone added, “Forget about using refunds to pay down Christmas credit card bills. There might not be any.”
Also on hold: charitable donations for the year, as well as the next quarterly tax payments required of all employees, even a family’s housekeeper.
Breitstone, a partner at New York law firm Meltzer, Lippe, led a think-tank panel for hundreds of top tax professionals and government-policy officials who just returned from the nation’s leading federal tax-policy conference, the week-long NYU Institute on Federal Tax Policy.
Few answers surfaced. He said tax policy is “in shambles and perplexes the best minds in the country.” “I haven’t heard a single solution,” Breitstone said, “but it’s not for lack of trying. “
The IRS did step in last week to help taxpayers who were in Hurricane Sandy’s broad path by postponing any filing or extension deadlines falling on or after Oct. 27 to Feb. 1, 2013.