Americans for Tax Reform: “In just 120 days, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:” The three waves are (1) expiration of the Bush tax cuts, (2) new Obamacare taxes, and (3) the application of the alternative minimum tax to millions of taxpayers for the first time.
Investors Business Daily: “Candidate Obama repeatedly vowed that those earning under $250,000 ‘will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.’ Will he veto the $3,700 tax hike Congress is considering for 30 million Americans? See “Millions face tax increases under Dems budget plan.”
The Alternative Minimum Tax bomb exploded January 1, 2010, because Congress failed to pass legislation that would have prevented the tax from affecting millions of taxpayers. The number of taxpayers affected by the AMT will jump from 4 million in calendar year 2009 to 27 million in 2010. As the reach of the AMT grows under current law, many taxpayers will face a fundamentally altered tax structure. If nothing is changed this year, one in six taxpayers will be affected by the AMT, paying on average an additional $3,900 in tax, and nearly every married taxpayer with income between $100,000 and $500,000 will owe some alternative tax. Because of the particular tax preferences and exemptions disallowed under the AMT, that tax structure is more likely to affect married couples, large families, and taxpayers in states with high state and local taxes. See the Congressional Budget Office’s January 15, 2010, report called “The Individual Alternative Minimum Tax.”
Congress created the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in 1969 because of a story in the Wall St. Journal about 100 millionaires who paid no income tax. The primary reason they did not pay any income tax was because they had invested in tax free municipal bonds, a type of investment that produces earnings that are not taxed under the federal income tax law. Congress created tax free municipal bond investments to give people an incentive to invest money in investments that paid lower rates of return than many taxable investments. Bottom line: Congress decided in 1969 to punish tax wealthy people who took the bait and invested in the tax-favored bonds.
Fast forward to 2010 and the 1969 AMT bomb will fully detonate. “The Individual Alternative Minimum Tax: Historical Data and Projections, Updated October 2009” examines the history of the AMT and explains the damage that will soon occur.
The alternative minimum tax (AMT), which originally targeted high-income taxpayers, requires annual legislation to prevent it from affecting millions of middle-income individuals each year. There are two primary reasons for the AMT’s broadening impact; its parameters are not indexed for inflation and the 2001-2006 tax cuts reduced regular tax liability without changing AMT liability. In 2009, four million taxpayers will pay $33.5 billion in AMT, but without congressional action that number will rise to 27 million owing $102 billion in 2010.
Why is it that a law that was intended to raise revenue from a small number of super rich Americans will soon cause 27 million taxpayers to pay $33.5 billion?