The push to eliminate the estate tax appears to be dead, at least for now. According to The New York Times, "though a handful of lawmakers continued to search for a compromise that could pass, negotiators appeared unable to reach a deal before the end of this week — if ever." That leaves things as the mess they are. Under current law, the tax applies to estates worth more than $2 million. The exemption amount is increased to $3.5 million in 2009, until, in 2010, the estate tax disappears entirely -- but only for a year. In 2011, it returns in its pre-2001 incarnation (including a per-person exemption of only $1 million).