NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Ben Franklin observed that nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. Thanks to Congress, you can strike taxes from that short list.

Political stalemate has made 2010 the year without an estate tax, which means multimillionaires who died this year can pass on all their wealth without paying a penny to Uncle Sam.

Yet the odds of Congress reinstating the tax this year, while increasingly slim, are putting windfalls on hold.

“People act like a deer in headlights. They don’t know what to do in view of the uncertainty,” said Jeremiah “Jere” Doyle, a senior vice president at BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

The deaths of Texas pipeline billionaire Dan Duncan, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and other immensely wealthy people this year drew attention to a gigantic hole in the U.S. tax net: no levy on multimillion-dollar estates for the first time since Teddy Roosevelt was in office.