Politics & Policy

Be Pro-Choice

The AMT really has a hold on the middle class.

With a majority of Americans already feeling the pressure of our nation’s record high food and gas costs, the last thing they need is to send more of their hard-earned money to Washington. Unfortunately, that’s what Democrats in Congress are asking them to do. This week when Congress’ current Democrat leadership rolls out their so called “relief bill,” H.R. 6275, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Relief Act of 2008, they’ll be stealing even more money from the pockets of America’s families.

The burdensome and outdated AMT was created in 1969 for the purpose of ensuring that “wealthy” Americans paid income taxes even if they had no income tax liability under the regular income tax system. Under this law, taxpayers have to calculate their taxes under the regular tax system and under the AMT system, and then pay the higher of the two. But, when creating this law Congress chose to ignore future consequences and foolishly did not index it to inflation. And because of that lack of foresight 39 years ago, today, the AMT ensnares millions of middle-class taxpayers. And each year more and more middle class families find themselves paying higher taxes under the AMT.

As a former tax attorney and as a taxpayer I have no doubt that the AMT must be abolished. The Democrat-led Congress had the ability to fix it but instead they decided to raise taxes on our nation’s hard-working families making it even more difficult for many to pay their bills. This so called “relief bill” would impose a massive $61.6 billion in permanent tax increases on businesses and individuals for over eleven years. Under what definition of relief is this considered a help?

To make matters worse, the Democrat’s AMT legislation also arbitrarily denies a corporate tax deduction for America’s five leading oil and gas companies beginning as soon as next year. According to the non partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, that would amount to a $13.57 billion tax increase on oil and gas companies over eleven years. The American people are already feeling the pain at the pump, the last thing they need it to have those prices increased because of a tax-happy Congress.

My Republican colleagues and I offered a bill that provides much needed relief from the burdensome AMT but Democrats choose to let it sit in committee without debate or consideration while they bring their tax-hike to the floor. Our bill, H.R. 3818, the Taxpayer Choice Act, is the cornerstone bill in the recently unveiled Republican Economic Agenda. This bill would give taxpayers an option of paying either higher tax rates with more deductions or lower tax rates with no special deductions. Our bill would empower taxpayers to choose an option that best fits their families’ needs.

The Taxpayer Choice Act would immediately, fully, and permanently repeal the current AMT; make permanent the current capital gains and dividends tax rates; and create a voluntary Simplified Tax that would give individuals the option of paying under a highly simplified income tax system or under the regular income tax as it is structured now.

Our nation’s families are hurting. It’s time for Washington to turn its focus to protecting the family budget, not increasing the federal one. Congress must take action before the AMT destroys our middle class.

Michele Bachman is a representative from Minnesota.


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