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May 20, 2009 7:00 AM CDT

The Challenges of the Alternative Minimum Tax

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From health care to energy and tax reform to supporting small businesses, positive solutions have continually fallen victim to posturing and politics. No issue, however, speaks to the chronic negligence of this partisanship more than the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which has been looming over millions of middle class families.

The Alternative Minimum Tax was enacted in 1969 by a Democratic Congress to ensure a couple of hundred of the wealthiest Americans did not use deductions to escape legitimate tax obligations. However, it was never indexed for inflation, and the AMT threshold has been creeping toward more moderate earners for decades. In the past, to ensure that this tax did not soak the middle class, the Republican Congress passed annual AMT patches, saving millions of hard-working families from significant tax increases. Yet, because of partisan politics on the matter, this tax hike continues to threaten the middle class.

While the disturbing lack of action from the Congressional majority leadership is unacceptable, it actually serves as a sad display of how partisan Congress is operating. Since taking control of Congress in 2007, Democrats have continually missed key deadlines, sought outright tax increases, and forced constructive public policy to take a back seat to politics.

Like all Americans, Congress is expected to work hard and address the challenges facing Americans. In 2010, the exemption for the AMT will decrease from $46,700 to $33,750 for single filers, and from $70,950 to $45,000 for married couples filing jointly.

The Congressional majority has made no secret its craving for bigger government and more taxpayer dollars. Democrat leadership has proposed only to save the middle class from the AMT if they can raise taxes elsewhere to feed other federal programs. Only in today’s partisan environment could this misguided Congressional majority leadership propose hiking taxes to stop a tax hike.

Passing a prompt and permanent AMT fix without gimmicks is essential, but also we need a complete and sweeping tax overhaul to restore true equity to our broken and oppressive system. The current tax code is complicated and fraught with special carve outs.

Conservatives in the House of Representatives have offered a meaningful stimulus proposal that eliminates the AMT and simplifies our entire system. We need a streamlined system that treats people fairly and equally by putting more money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans.


About the Author

Congressman Thomas E. Price, M.D., was first elected to Congress, representing the Sixth District of Georgia, in November 2004. Price’s priorities include reforming the tax system, strengthening health care and education, ensuring enforcement of our immigration laws, promoting a 21st century energy plan, and finding transportation solutions for Atlanta residents and commuters.

 

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