A whopping 77 tax deductions, tax credits and other tax-saving laws expired on Dec. 31, 2011, according to a tally by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

This hodgepodge of individual and business tax breaks — some of which apply to large groups of taxpayers, others that are much more specific — have been on the books for years.

But technically these laws are temporary.

Each has a specific end date, typically the conclusion of a tax year. For the most part, Congress has extended them year after year. That’s why the collective bunch is referred to as “extenders.”

Individual filers have seen extenders for years on the various tax forms they file at tax time. They range from a few hundred dollars in tax savings for teachers to thousands added to Internal Revenue Service bills because of the alternative minimum tax system.

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