The practice of requiring well-to-do Americans to pay a minimum tax was developed more than three decades ago. In January, 1969, then-Treasury Secretary Joseph W. Barr informed Congress that 155 individual taxpayers with income exceeding $200,000 paid no tax in 1966. The news set off a political firestorm that resulted in the creation of a minimum tax. Under current law, 36 million taxpayers will be subject to the current minimum tax by 2010. This Issues and Options paper examines how tax designed to target 155 taxpayers grew so dramatically, the economics of the AMT, and the options for reform.
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