Q. With all the talk about the budget deficit and reforming the tax code, should I expect to be paying more in taxes in 2012?
A. So far, that's anyone's guess. Watch for the report of the "super-committee," the 12 Washington lawmakers who are struggling against a Thanksgiving deadline to craft a deficit reduction plan that could actually pass Congress.
See also: Dealing with the debt.
In the meantime, some political pundits predict that higher-earning workers will have to pay more, either through higher income tax rates or more limited deductions.
There's also the question of whether Congress will keep the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, low in 2012. For 2011, it was cut to 4.2 percent, two percentage points lower than usual, as an economic stimulus measure.
Polls show that some voters say they'd be willing to pay more taxes to lower the deficit. But they also say the current tax system is too complicated or unfair.
Presidential candidates from both parties have proposed changes, including closing loopholes to raise more revenue and implementing a flat tax that would restructure the tax system.
Also of interest: Cut your taxes for 2011. >>
Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.