For taxpayers who scrambled to make last-minute gifts at the end of 2012 to take advantage of the gift tax exemption and lower tax rate, it was a good thing to do despite the fact that within 23 hours of year’s end, legislation passed averting the return to the old-law $1 million exemption and 55 percent maximum tax rate.

“That exemption amount of $1 million and the 55 percent rate actually became effective for 23 hours,” said Shari Levitan, a partner at Holland & Knight. “The legislation could have just as easily been limited to adjustments in income tax rates, and few were willing to bet on Congress.”

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