Congress originally enacted a minimum tax in 1969 to guarantee that high-income individuals paid at least a minimal amount of tax. Under todays alternative minimum tax (AMT), middle- and upper-income taxpayers must add a number of "preference items" to their taxable income, subtract a special AMT exemption, and calculate their tax according to the AMT rules. If the tax under those rules turns out to be higher than their regular income tax, taxpayers pay the difference as AMT. Unless Congress acts, 26.8 million taxpayers will be affected by the AMT in 2008.
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