Friday, December 21, 2007

Good - Avoiding AMT; Bad - Waiting for your Tax Refund

Category: Tax Law and Planning

As with all things dealing with tax law, when the government giveth, it also takes away. Per - Tax change may mean delay in refunds : "More than 20 million taxpayers will escape the alternative minimum tax this year, thanks to a stopgap measure Congress approved Wednesday. But lawmakers waited so late in the year to vote that many early filers could have to wait until March to get their refunds."

The article contains a good explanation of the AMT or Alternative Minimum Tax - a tax originally designed to prevent very wealthy taxpayers from essentially "deducting" their tax returns down to a zero tax. The AMT is a parallel calculation of tax, that does not incorporate certain deductions. While the theory behind the AMT is sound, the problem is that the income levels that AMT impact were not legislated to be adjusted for inflation. As such, as income grows through inflation, such that salary is higher, but wealth is not necessarily greater, the AMT captures more and more taxpayers, but not necessarily those taxpayer the law was intended to address.

If you were counting on that refund any time soon, this is another example of why you should try to minimize your refund instead of giving the government an interest free loan.


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