Basically, with no changes to current law, taxes will rise for everyone, and after tax, inflation-adjusted income for the average American will drop to 1998 levels.
As Leonhardt puts it: "All in all, the end of 2012 will be unlike any other time in memory for the federal government."
At this point, many of our readers will already be familiar with the stakes. It's not just the Bush tax cuts that are due to expire, but mandatory spending cuts agreed to during the debt ceiling debacle are supposed to kick in as well.
In theory, 5% of GDP could be gone.
The interesting question is: What election outcome makes it easiest to avoid this 'Taxmageddon'.