Repeal of the federal estate tax in 2010 – once unthinkable – now appears likely. While the House of Representatives passed a permanent extension of the estate tax in early December, the Senate has been unable to pass a temporary or permanent extension, or anything else related to the estate tax, as Congress rushes toward its holiday recess. It now appears likely that nothing will be passed prior to the end of the year and we will begin 2010 with no federal estate tax.

Congressional leaders have stated that they will resume efforts to pass legislation as soon as Congress returns, so repeal, if it happens, may be short-lived. Some Republicans have stated that they feel they will have better leverage to negotiate if the estate tax is actually repealed. Democrats have stated they would hope to restore the current tax and make it retroactive to January 1.