Article submitted by Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM, Associate Broker for Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate Legislative News November 20, 2012

The fiscal cliff has been dominating media outlets since the presidential election. The term “fiscal cliff” refers to expiring Bush-era tax cuts, the payroll tax, Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), Medicare payments to doctors. These expiring provisions, along with the sequestration (cuts to federal agency budgets) that takes effect Jan. 1, 2013, could cause significant problems for the economy and may push the U.S. economy over the “cliff,” resulting in serious fiscal issues felt across the nation.

Current law, stemming from the debt ceiling negotiations of spring 2011, states that if lawmakers do not find a solution to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, automatic spending cuts for the federal government would begin. The spending cuts include $64 billion in defense and nondefense programs, as well as a $330 billion tax increase (expiration of ” Bush Tax Cuts”). Each fiscal threat is important, but the expiring Bush-era tax cuts are the most relevant to the commercial real estate industry.

What Could Happen?
Because the Republican and Democratic parties have been quiet in their negotiation plans to the looming fiscal cliff, there is an air of uncertainty over how the crisis will be handled. There are, however, some potential outcomes that can be theorized:

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Carmen has been a practicing commercial real estate broker since 2001. She is a graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU) E.J. Ourso College of Business and the LSU Flores Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance.  Her experience includes past employment as Regional Director of Leasing at Commercial Properties Realty Trust the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Carmen’s affiliations include Louisiana REALTORS®,Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment DivisionInternational Council of Shopping CentersCommercial Real Estate WomenCertified Commercial Investment Member InstituteNational Association of REALTORS®, and Urban Land Institute. She is also an active volunteer on the board of directors for the Baton Rouge GalleryLSU MBA Alumni AssociationJunior Achievement of Baton Rouge, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge.  Carmen is a graduate of the Jay W. Levine Leadership Development Academy Class of 2011 and most recently served as the 2010 President of the Louisiana CCIM Chapter

Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce (BRAC); the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce; the Baton Rouge Better Business Bureau; the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB); and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Several agents, on an individual basis, are members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM); the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division (CID).