Absent Last Minute Deal, Estate Tax to Sunset Jan. 1

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House and Senate lawmakers continue to work on a deal for extending the current estate tax rate and exemption levels but with no agreement yet, there is an increasing possibility that the tax will sunset Jan. 1. Early plans to attach a one-year extension to the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3326) are ditched when Senate Democrats make it clear they cannot get 60 majority votes in support of the underlying bill or any Republican votes for a short-term estate tax extension. The situation is extremely fluid in both chambers. Congress will not address expiring tax provisions such as the research and development tax credit until 2010.