Permanent fix needed to right unfair tax law
Published: Wednesday, December 26th, 2007
Before adjourning for the holidays, Congress finally approved yet another one-year fix to the unconscionable Alternative Minimum Tax. Otherwise it would have forced some 20 million middle-class Americans to do more complex calculations and pay higher taxes. Too bad Congress didn’t just repeal this unjustified tax. A brief history: Back in 1969, some members of Congress noticed that some of the richest Americans were paying no income tax at all due to deductions and tax shelters. Instead of fixing the absurdly complex system Congress itself had set up, it passed the AMT, which forces people at a certain level of income to calculate their tax liability two different ways, then pay the higher amount. However, the AMT was not indexed for inflation, so over the years it has ensnared an increasing number of middle-class Americans. And each year Congress has passed a temporary fix. It took a long time this year because the Democratic majority in the House was obsessed with recapturing the revenue the government would “lose” by patching the AMT system. This is absurd. The AMT for decades has given the government a windfall over and above the already confiscatory depredations of the income tax system. If the concern were for justice, taxpayers victimized for all those years would get a rebate. But Congress — surprise! — cares more about maximizing government revenues than about justice or the welfare of the people.
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