White House economists warned Monday that the uncertainty of a potential hike in taxes next year for middle class taxpayers under the looming fiscal cliff could hurt consumer confidence during the crucial holiday shopping season.

In a new report that coincides with Congress’ return after the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House says that if lawmakers don’t halt the automatic increase in taxes for households earning less than $250,000, consumers might even curtail their shopping during the current holiday season.

“As we approach the holiday season, which accounts for close to one-fifth of industry sales, retailers can’t afford the threat of tax increases on middle-class families,” the report says.

The study by President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and his Council of Economic Advisers also says a sudden increase in taxes for middle-income taxpayers would reduce consumer spending in 2013 by nearly $200 billion, significantly slowing the economic recovery.

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