The lame-duck Congress has now departed for its Thanksgiving recess with no clear path in sight for dealing with pressing tax issues: extension of the Bush tax cuts, resolving the estate tax problem, patching the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and dealing with extenders; i.e., deciding whether or not to retroactively extend some or all of the tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 (including the research credit).
What's more, it looks as if this particular lame-duck Congress is lamer than usual and may not resolve these issues until the very last minute - right before Christmas. On November 18, Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) told members of the press to "get your snow boots on."
The thorniest issue is the expiring Bush-era tax cuts. The Democrats (and the Administration) want to extend the tax-cuts for "non-high income" taxpayers only. The Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone. The problem is that neither party has the votes to prevail. That will inevitably lead to a compromise of some sorts. One possibility is an across-the-board but temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals. We'll keep you posted as this end-of-year saga unfolds.