A stalemate in Congress could mean a downright unfriendly Christmas gift for millions of Americans.
At stake is an average of $20 a week in payroll taxes, plus the continuance of unemployment and Medicare benefits.
And with holiday gridlock settling in Washington, the chances for reaching an agreement this week appear slim.
"The president and leaders of both houses of Congress have called for a year-long extension of the payroll tax credit. The House has passed a bill that would do just that," House Speaker John Boehner said.
President Barack Obama said the stalemate "is not a game" and shouldn't be "politics as usual."
But that's exactly what it looks like to some Americans.
The Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cuts that includes jobless benefits and Medicare fees.
But the Republican House wants a year-long extension, which the Senate rejected.
Now, the GOP is refusing to back the Senate bill.
"We oppose that bill because the two-month extension will create more uncertainty for job creators in our country when millions of Americans are out of work," Boehner said.
The president says he won't leave for his planned Christmas vacation in Hawaii until it's resolved.
"We can all spend Christmas together," Obama said.
Boehner says the Senate needs to come back to Washington and finish negotiating.
Conservative commentator Seton Motley told CBN News the Senate should never have adjourned.
"When the House writes bills and the Senate writes bills, there's gonna be differences. There's nothing wrong with what the House is doing," Motley said.
"The Democrats don't like it because they have to come back from vacation to deal with it," he added. "But they should never have passed a bill and left town anyway, assuming that the House would pass the bill verbatim."
In addition to the increase in payroll taxes, more than two million of the long-term unemployed Americans will lose their benefits.
Doctors who treat Medicare patients will also see payments slashed by 27 percent if the bill is not passed.