The alternative minimum tax isn't the only tax that will continue to surprise taxpayers if Congress fails to act on its repeal. The estate tax, currently set to expire in 2010, will return with a vengeance to a full 55 percent in 2011 if Congress does nothing.The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that in 2009 there will be 9,600 estates subject to the estate tax. While that number falls to zero in 2010, it will jump to nearly 62,000 in 2011, with increases every year thereafter.

The temporary nature of the estate tax repeal provisions results in additional complexity and confusion for small businesses, and adds to planning costs, say observers.

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