AMT Repeal: Top Priority for National Taxpayer Advocate and AICPA

By Lesli S. Laffie, J.D., LL.M.

The top priority for Federal tax reform should be repeal of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for individuals, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson said in her annual report to Congress at the end of 2006. The AICPA has also endorsed outright repeal of the individual AMT (similar to S 55, introduced by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA)). Far from its original purpose of thwarting tax-avoidance schemes by the wealthy, the AMT now “is left to punish taxpayers for engaging in such ‘classic tax-avoidance behavior’ as having children or living in a high-tax state,” Olson said, noting that the AMT obviates personal exemptions and deductibility of state and local taxes. The AMT headed Olson’s list of the 21 most serious tax issues, as it has repeatedly since 2001. The next five priorities were, in order:

  1. Underpayment of tax (the “tax gap”);

  2. Lack of transparency in IRS procedures and guidance;

  3. The Private Debt Collection program, which Olson said should be scrapped;

  4. A need for earlier IRS intervention in collection cases; and

  5. Greater use of installment agreements, offers-in-compromise and other alternative collection methods.

The report is available at www.irs.gov/advocate/article/0,,id=165806,00.html.

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