There is no telling how long the Internal Revenue Service will keep in place a new tax change aimed at encouraging bank acquisitions, so banking lawyers are advising their clients to hurry up and deal.

The change, which allows buyers to shelter their own earnings from taxes using an acquired bank's losses, is already considered to have played a role in one big deal — Wells Fargo & Co.'s agreement to buy Wachovia Corp. for $15.1 billion — and many industry watchers say they expect it to spur much more consolidation.

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