The editors of Smart Money ranked the likelihood of extension for several popular tax breaks. They gave highest likelihood to (yet ANOTHER annual) alternate minimum tax patch; a strong likelihood to the tuition and K-12 teacher supplies deductions and the state/local income or sales tax deduction option; a more likely than not rating to extending the reduced Social Security withholding rate and IRA charitable deduction provisions and a low likelihood of maintaining the energy-efficient home improvement credit.
For the most part, I tend to agree with Smart Money--although based on the deficit issue mentioned above I am less confident than the authors that the income/sales decision option, the charitable IRA deduction and the reduced Social Security rate of 4.2% for employees will be continued (one possible compromise on the Social Security--the 4.2% rate would only be used for the first $50,000 of wages or salary per job). One takeaway--if you have home repairs such as weatherstripping or better insulated windows to install; arrange to have this done before Christmas. The more salient concern here--why can't Congress (both Harry Reid and John Boehner) get this done earlier in the year so taxpayers have some time to make decisions.