Time has come to get rid of ‘alternative’ tax

Among flaws in the U.S. Senate’s tax reform bill that should be corrected before a tax package becomes law is the alternative minimum tax. It is among the most unpopular provisions of tax law.

In effect, the AMT was designed to take a second look at people who complete their tax returns, do everything accurately and legally — but end up paying lower taxes than some members of Congress in 1982 felt was appropriate.

About 3.9 million Americans run afoul of the AMT every year. Nearly 6 million others are close enough that they are forced to do calculations in addition to those for their normal returns, to ensure the AMT does not require they pay more than they had anticipated.

And, while most of those affected by the AMT have higher incomes, it dips far down in the middle class too. A few AMT payers each year have household incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

A tax reform bill approved by the House of Representatives would eliminate the AMT. The Senate version would leave it in place.

As we have reported, the AMT, combined with some other provisions in the Senate bill, could hurt some employers badly. Harming businesses in a tax reform bill meant to help them create jobs is ridiculous. Senators should agree to accept the House tax reform provisions, killing the AMT.

Before you decide the AMT just hurts big corporations and “rich” people, consider this: No fewer than nine candidates for president last year said they favored eliminating the AMT. One of them was Bernie Sanders — certainly no friend of rich corporations or individuals.

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