Posts Tagged ‘Alternative Minimum Tax’
January 1st, 2013 at 11:36 am
Why House Conservatives May Vote Yes

In a very lengthy post at The American Spectator, I explain why the castor oil produced last night might be more good than bad for conservative digestions — by just a tiny amount, to be sure, and even then only if conservatives start playing their cards better in the coming months, but still an amount worth considering.  Please do take the time to follow the link and read the whole thing, but for now, the main point is that this deal actually does retain the lower spending levels (on discretionary spending) that conservatives had wanted. This fact should not be lost in the din of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

For purposes of this post, let me add to that AmSpec mini-essay to focus on two aspects of this deal that conservatives should truly celebrate.

Both involve “permanent” (in legislative lingo) solutions to vexing tax issues that conservatives have long sought.

First, this bill would permanently establish a $5 million threshold before the death tax kicks in. This is a huge achievement, protecting the vast majority of small businesses and family farms from this horrible tax. Even better, it indexes the threshold to inflation — so the exemption from the death tax will only grow over time. This is terrific. It is good economics, good policy… in short, a very good win.

Second, this bill permanently protects tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of taxpayers, from the evil Alternative Minimum Tax. How? Again, by permanently indexing the current threshold for inflation. Rather than leaving this hidden time bomb ticking, forever threatening to explode, subject to repeated “fixes” at the last minute by harried congressmen, this now enshrines into law the protections that all current taxpayers still below the AMT level now enjoy.

These are not achievements to scoff at. Sometimes it makes sense to bank some gains and come back to fight another day for other things of importance.

November 19th, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Health Care Taxes as the New AMT?
Posted by Print

The recently passed House health care bill contains a plethora of tax hikes that would make any nanny-state liberal smile with appreciation.

Perhaps the biggest tax hike, in terms of revenue generation, is the new surtax on “high-income” earners.  However, even most Democrats realize that any new tax on income (amounts over $500,000 and $1 million) must be indexed for inflation to avoid hitting middle-class taxpayers.

If not, taxpayers could experience “bracket creep” similar to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), the inception of which was meant to target literally a few dozen millionaires, but could soon affect over 30 million taxpayers.  If income thresholds don’t change, in the year 2060 a $500,000 annual income won’t be rich but taxpayers will still have to pay both the AMT and the health care surtax.

For example, without changes, the CBO now estimates that “three-quarters of households would pay the AMT.”  The math for the potential surtax is just as frightening.

BlackBook Legal’s Sam Greenberg does the math on the new health care surtax and it’s not pretty.  Eventually, the 5.4% surtax could end up hitting millions of households.  Even if wages grow at the same rate as inflation (unlikely unless the economy continues to stagnate), the surtax will end up hitting at least 5 times as many households as was intended by House leaders.  Greenberg concludes, “A non-inflation linked tax is a convenient way to pass future tax hikes without any legislative action.”

This is just another unintended consequence of federal tax policy.  For those who remain confident that the surtax will eventually be indexed to avoid middle-class taxpayers, just look at the AMT.  Of course, when tax time arrives, you won’t have to look for it; the AMT will find you.