With the 2008 presidential election looming, proposals that could turn the most sanguine tax accountants into habitual nailbiters came under serious discussion on both sides of Capitol Hill.In the Senate, congressional leaders called together a panel of top economists to help plot a course for tax reform next year, but the discussion produced more conflict than consensus.

Meanwhile, in the lower chamber, Democrats opened fire on one of the most cherished tax deductions of tax accountants and their clients: health savings accounts. During hearings before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Democrats unleashed a barrage of criticism at these accounts, which allow individuals and their employers to make tax-preferred contributions toward qualified medical expenses, provided that they have high-deductible health insurance plans.

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