Kill the AMT

Kill the AMT
July 20, 2011


The Gang of Six has proposed elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).  Only in a comprehensive approach, as presently discussed, can such a thing be accomplished.

We have written about this for years.  We were instrumental in getting bipartisan bills introduced in the House to repeal it (Thanks to Congressmen Andrews-D  & LoBiondo-R, both from New Jersey where the AMT is sucking folks dry.).  Their bill never advanced.  Why?  Because the answer always was: “Where are you going to get the revenue to make up for the loss of the money that comes in from the AMT?”

Now there is a chance.  There is momentum building to change things.

The AMT is an alternative system of taxation that is burdensome, discourages investment, and acts as a surreptitious trap.  About 4 million people pay it; it started out as a tax on only 200 people, all millionaires.  Over the years it has sneaked up on the rest of us.

The present AMT payers are not mostly million dollar incomes.    Those folks know how to avoid it.  The people who pay it now are mostly in the middle-income group.  If you do not believe me, ask your accountant.  And while you’re at it, ask him/her how much extra it costs you to have him/her run the tests every year to see if you have to pay it.  And ask the other 20 million Americans who are threatened by it, what they have to do to avoid it.  Note that all of this expense is additional cost because of the AMT.

And ask those who do not get their deductions for their state income taxes or the real estate taxes on their homes, how much they like this tax.  And while you are at it, compute what their real cost of property taxes is when they get no deduction.  Then you can figure out why housing languishes in recovery.

Anyway, now is the time for taxpayers and middle-income working folks and small business to weigh in very heavily against the AMT.  The telephone for the US Capitol switchboard is 202-221-3224.  Ask the operator to connect you to your congressional member.  Be patient when you call; it may ring for a while, but they will answer.  They just did for me.  They are very busy.  BTW, I always compliment the switchboard operator for their service to the United States and the polite way they handle such a massive volume of calls.

And, also BTW, while we are getting rid of the AMT, let’s kill the ethanol subsidy, too.

The moment for citizens to take back their country may have arrived.


David R. Kotok, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer

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