Congress Promises AMT “Relief “

But don’t get too excited. It’s totally lame – again.

You see, when it comes to the AMT (alternative minimum tax), Congress has no answer. So every year – without fail – at the very, very end of the year, Congress gives us a band aid in the form of temporary relief. Don’t believe me? Google “taxgirl” and “AMT”.

But it makes for a good headline, right? Mine isn’t the only one that makes you think it’s something more. CNN announced: “Bipartisan vow: We’ll fix AMT” and MSNBC touted: “Dems, GOP vow to spare millions from AMT.”

What they (as well as me) conveniently left out? The all important words “for 2010.”

Congress isn’t really going to get rid of AMT because it brings in a lot of money (to the tune of $70 billion a year). And they really aren’t going to fix it long term because, well, they don’t know how. We Americans enjoy our tax breaks. You try to take them away and we get ugly. Nobody wants that.

So, instead, every year, Congress makes these grandiose statements meant to look like they’re helping us out. This year, a bunch of Congressmen wrote a letter (gasp) to IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, advising him that they were working on a fix. In dramatic fashion, they wrote:

We will work to craft the AMT provision so that, in the aggregate, not one additional taxpayer faces higher taxes in 2010 due to the onerous AMT.

In my mind, I was picturing members of Congress holding up turnips in a field a la Scarlett O’Hara’s dramatic “As God is my witness” speech in “Gone With the Wind.” But chances are, they were probably just sitting around a conference table in Washington, sipping on coffees, trying to figure out how to make this “announcement” sound better than it is.

Maybe they’ll eventually get around to doing something about the AMT. But for this year, we got ourselves another band-aid.

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Comments

  1. Brad

    As a tax professional, I appreciate the insight, but could do without the snarky political comments. If you have a suggestion on how to fix AMT, I think everyone would love to hear it, but bashing Congress really just exacerbates the political divide and doesn’t help us come together and resolve issues.

  2. AK

    @Brad, this is not an example of the political divide, though, as both parties are at fault. As citizens who vote for politicians, we don’t have to know *how* we want things fixed to know that we want them fixed. To pretend only those who have all the answers can criticize is far more harmful to discourse than using some snark in one’s criticsms.

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  4. Brad

    @AK, Where did I suggest that only people with the answers can criticize? There is a difference between criticizing and making comments that do not add to the conversation. I mentioned neither party, nor did I place blame on one side or the other. And what does it have to do with voting? I think you’ve missed my point completely.

  5. AK

    @Brad, I misintepreted your comment about the “political divide” as to being about the parties, as that is usually what the terminology refers to. I apologize for assuming. What did you mean when you said it exacerbates the political divide?

    I do think that Kelly’s comments add much to the conversation. Using humor to emphasize a point does not make the point moot.

    Voting has everything to do with having an opinion on how policy works. I was surprised by your own snarky comment, that everyone would love to hear Kelly’s suggestion for how to fix AMT. As I said, “we don’t have to know how we want things fixed to know that we want them fixed”.

    I apologize if I did miss your point, but I do disagree. I found the post to be an entertaining take on this being drawn out.

  6. Author
    Kelly

    Brad, you must not read the blog very often. I’m fairly snarky as a rule. It’s kind of who I am.

    That said, I do have suggestions as to how to fix the AMT. They’re just not very popular. At the very least, the AMT should be indexed for inflation so that we don’t have to do a patch every single year.

  7. Brad

    Ha ha, I do read it somewhat regularly, for some reason I felt like commenting on it this time. Quite possibly a reaction to the recent corporate funded hate fest we call midterms; I’m sick of hearing that stuff! Thank goodness it’s over for now.
    Any way, nothing personal, just a casual observation, and I am sincere when I say that I appreciate the insight. Looking forward to your comments on the proposed deficit reduction strategy.

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