The AMT was enacted in 1969 to prevent a small group of wealthy individuals from exploiting tax loopholes to avoid paying any taxes at all. Rather than eliminating the loopholes, Congress devised a scheme to compute a person’s tax in two ways: one using the standard tax system and the other using a unique “alternative” method. The taxpayer pays the highest of the two outcomes. As you may expect, this dual system is complicated and perplexing.
The scheme didn’t disturb many people because it only applied to the wealthiest taxpayers. However, because the AMT levels did not keep up with inflation, they began to affect an increasing number of Americans.
Here’s how to figure out whether you’re at risk and what you can do about AMT Tax planning.
AMT Planning Is Unaffected By A Few Popular Tax Items
- Some items are deductible on a conventional income tax return but not on an AMT return.
- Beginning in 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed the personal exemption. Until 2026, the exemption amount will stay at zero.
- However, this act does not rule out the possibility that certain deductions and exemptions will benefit you. Because the AMT has its own set of tax rates, your total AMT may still be less than your regular income tax.
- You pay the maximum amount between the regular income tax and the AMT; you pay the total amount.
- Unless you have a lot of reductions and other tax breaks that the AMT doesn’t allow, you’ll probably owe regular income tax.
If You Have Certain AMT Items, Then File Form 6251
Even if you don’t owe AMT, you must file Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax, if on your tax return you need to report any of the following items.
- Depreciation is occurring at a faster rate.
- On Form 4952, you can deduct investment interest expenses.
- Interest on a house mortgage that was not used to buy, build or enhance your property.
- Section 1202 exemptions, intangible drilling, circulation, research, experimental or mining expenditures, tax-exempt interest from private activity bonds, and so on are some of the less prevalent items.
A Little Alternative Minimum Tax Planning
The most straightforward approach to prepare for the AMT is to read your tax return, including Form 6251, thoroughly each year. Your strategy is determined by your earnings and the kind of tax benefits that trigger the AMT in your situation. For example, if accelerated depreciation deductions result in AMT, you may want to adopt a different depreciation method.
Understanding how the AMT works will assist you in making more informed tax decisions. Because the standard deduction is not allowed, if you have itemized deductions near the amount of your standard deduction, then it will be better off taking the itemized deductions to avoid the AMT.
And in case you are subjected to AMT in some years but not others, try to schedule your deductible costs for the years; you will profit the most from them.