The fiscal cliff bill signed shortly after New Year's provided a permanent extension of the portability of the unused portion of a spouse’s lifetime gift and estate exclusion amount ($5.12 million in 2012 and indexed for inflation thereafter). This provision gives couples an additional way to preserve both spouses’ full exclusions without the need for traditional credit shelter and bypass trusts. In other words, a couple can combine their $5 million (indexed) exclusion when elected after the first spouse's death. This was already the case for 2011 and 2012 but was extended on a permanent basis.
The title may be a misnomer depending on which tax you are talking about and how large your income is. The bill signed by President Obama is fairly comprehensive in nature affecting income taxes, estate and gift taxes, and payroll taxes. You may have already seen the increase in the Social Security taxes on your paycheck, increasing from 4.2% to 6.2%. The payroll tax holiday is over with an obvious increase to taxes for the middle class as this tax is only on income up to $113,700.
What about income tax rates? The highest tax bracket moves from 35% to 39.6% and the capital gains rates increases from 15% to 20%, both for income over $400,000 ($450,000 joint filers).
Income tax credits: The child tax credit, child and dependent care credit, and the earned income tax credit are all extended.
Estate and gift taxes: The estate tax rate increases from 35% to 40% with the first $5 million still exempt per individual. The $5 million is indexed for inflation with the actual amount slightly larger. The gift tax annual exclusion has also increased to $14,000 per individual per year.
There are plenty of other provisions in the 153-page bill. Full legislation found here: American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.