Talk about taking it down to the wire: Even as they were watching the ball drop, Americans still didn't know what tax policy they'd be facing come April 15. But by the time the smoke cleared after Washington's fiscal cliff face-off, a new, far-reaching tax law had been approved and signed, with broad consequences for advisors and their clients.

There are other changes in play as well: new Medicare taxes laid out in the federal health care overhaul, the end of the 2% payroll tax holiday, the return of phase-outs for itemized deductions and a higher threshold for writing off medical expenses. Affluent Californians will also face an added state income tax, approved by voters in November under Proposition 30.

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