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The looming challenge of the alternative minimum tax


  • Alan D. Viard


The United States adopted its first minimum income tax in 1969 in response to reports that a few hundred high-income individuals had avoided paying any income taxes. From these humble beginnings, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) has grown to the point where it will soon raise taxes for millions of Americans, many of them middle-income workers who weren’t the targets of the original law. ; While the AMT applied to 200,000 taxpayers in 1990, roughly 4 million will pay it this year, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. But that is only the beginning. Under current law, the AMT rolls will explode to 22 million in 2007. The AMT’s revenue yield follows a similar pattern, having risen from $2 billion in 1990 to $22 billion this year. It’s projected to nearly triple to $65 billion in 2007. ; The AMT’s spread has added substantial complexity to the tax code, imposing burdens on taxpayers and the economy. A variety of reform options could address these problems, but difficult choices would have to be made to offset the resulting revenue losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan D. Viard, 2006. "The looming challenge of the alternative minimum tax," Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, vol. 1(aug).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddel:y:2006:i:aug:n:v.1no.8

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