Says Weltman, "More than 50 different tax breaks expired at the end of 2011. Unless those are extended, many people will be adversely affected." As one example, she cites the tax break that applied to people filing in states without an income tax: Last year they could deduct local sales tax in lieu of state income tax.
This year they can't—unless the break is restored. "They'll be hit hard," she warns.
As for the AMT, she envisions a positive outcome: Congress, she thinks, will approve a patch—maybe not right away, but eventually. "They'll approve it either this year or retroactively in 2013 for 2012." Why? It's an election year. Nobody holding office wants an additional 30 million votes ticked off.
Plus, it's simply too early in the year to be paralyzed with fear. "We'll have to see how things shape up. It's too early to do any significant planning yet. What if you lose your job? What If your income drops?" See? There's the bright spot.