The Waiting Game and AMT

As a parent, I spend a lot of time waiting. I have watched my son eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for an hour. Just this morning, my six year old took over ten minutes to change a pair of shoes (slip ons). And my eight year old, book in front of her face, can take fifteen minutes to walk to the car.

So I wait.

I guess this must be what it’s like to be IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. Shulman continues to wait for Congress to act on oh, so many things. Today’s target: alternative minimum tax, or AMT, relief.

While Congress seems to have no problem waiting until the very last minute (every.single.year) to patch up the gaping hole that is AMT, millions of Americans are holding their collective breaths to see if it will affect them. Up to 33 million taxpayers will likely be affected by AMT if the current rates hold: the AMT exemption amount has dropped to $33,750 for individual taxpayers ($45,000 if married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er); $22,500 if married filing separately).

Of course, Congress swears that they will fix it. They just haven’t done it yet. And that is clearly irking the Commish who wrote a letter to Congress advising that the longer that they wait, “the more strain it would have on the IRS’s limited resources.” He went on to warn that tax season might be in jeopardy if they keep the silliness up, stating:

If an AMT patch is not enacted until late this year, it is likely that the IRS would need to delay the ability of millions of AMT taxpayers to file their tax returns and access any refunds that may be due.

The IRS is also offering the following warning on their web site:

Caution. Congress is expected to consider legislation that would increase the AMT exemption amounts shown above and make it unnecessary for you to attach Form 6251 to your return to claim the credits listed above unless you actually owe AMT. If that legislation is enacted, we will update this page as soon as possible. You can also check the 2010 Form 6251 and the 2010 Instructions for Form 6251 once they become available.

Hmm. Doesn’t sound like IRS is willing to take the fall this year for the lack of information available to taxpayers. It’s clear that this last minute stuff is becoming tiresome. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that the IRS can do about it except wait…

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Comments

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  2. Rainer

    Here’s a radical idea: Why doesn’t Congress (1) Make the change in AMT threshold amounts permanent, and (2) Index them for inflation in the same way the tax brackets are indexed? How hard would that be?

    This seems to be what they have been doing for years anyway, and then they would have to spend less time on the AMT year after year. Which would give them so much more time to do something worthwhile.

    Oh! There’s the rub! Do we really want Congress to have more time to do even more to … er … for us?

  3. Michael J Craig

    This entire process of revisiting the AMT patch every year is a joke. Let’s index the AMT to inflation. The threshold amounts should be raised significantly first and then the indexing. The AMT was designed so that everyone would contribute something and no one would get off completely tax free. Serious tax policy shouldn’t be handled in a Helter-Skelter approach. Let’s fix this thing for good or get rid of it all together.

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