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.