On PBS, Slate's Dickerson claimed GOP can say "Democrats are going to raise taxes" with AMT fix

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On PBS' Washington Week, John Dickerson asserted that there will "perhaps [be] a tax increase to fix the alternative minimum tax," which he claimed "gets the Republicans very exercised and excited" because they "can go around talking about how Democrats are going to raise taxes." In fact, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has authored a proposal that would, according to the accompanying press release, "provide tax relief to more than 90 million working families through a permanent repeal of the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and enhancement of other tax benefits." The press release also stated that Rangel's plan is "entirely revenue-neutral."

During the November 2 edition of PBS' Washington Week, Slate.com chief political correspondent John Dickerson asserted that there will "perhaps [be] a tax increase to fix the alternative minimum tax," which he claimed "gets the Republicans very exercised and excited." Dickerson added that when Republicans "can go around talking about how Democrats are going to raise taxes, their blood gets going again, and so they're excited about that." In fact, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has authored a proposal that would, according to the accompanying press release, "provide tax relief to more than 90 million working families through a permanent repeal of the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and enhancement of other tax benefits."

The press release also stated that Rangel's plan is "entirely revenue-neutral." It added: "[A]n overwhelming percentage of families earning between $200,000 and $400,000 will still receive a net tax cut, since they will no longer have to pay the enormous tax liability of the AMT." Citing "House staffers," an October 26 Los Angeles Times article reported that under Rangel's proposal, "an estimated 23 million [taxpayers] ... would not be forced to pay the alternative minimum tax" and "[f]ewer than 2 million Americans would face a tax hike, predominantly those earning more than half a million dollars a year."

The AMT, enacted in 1970, was originally designed to keep wealthy people from using loopholes and shelters to pay very little income tax or none at all. But because the AMT's exemption level is not indexed for inflation, it has in recent years threatened to affect an increasing number of middle-income taxpayers, as Robert Kuttner explained in an April 7, 2005, "web only" article for The American Prospect:

[N]ow, due to inflation coupled with administration tax policies, the AMT is hitting millions of ordinary families, many earning well under $100,000 a year. Within five years, 37 percent of people earning between $50,000 and $75,000 and 73 percent of those with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 will pay the AMT, compared with less than 3 percent three years ago. Nearly all families earning over $100,000 will pay it, according to a Brookings Institution study.

In recent years, Congress has spared many middle-class taxpayers from the AMT by passing temporary relief measures, but, as the Times article on Rangel's plan reported, "all those temporary fixes are slated to expire."

From the November 2 edition of PBS' Washington Week:

DICKERSON: But there are other issues coming up. too. [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY], we talked about immigration and the licenses. There's a question about taxes and perhaps a tax increase to fix the alternative minimum tax, which gets Republicans very exercised and excited. They've been a bit in the doldrums, but when they can go around talking about how Democrats are going to raise taxes, their blood gets going again, and so they're excited about that.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
PBS
Person
John Dickerson
Show/Publication
Washington Week
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