Learning Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and How to Reduce It

Learning Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and How to Reduce ItPeople who work in a modern country like the United States should be more concerned with taxes. Everyone who makes valid income from his job or business has the obligation to pay a certain tax in a regular manner. However, we will talk specifically about alternative minimum tax or AMT.

Learning Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and How to Reduce It

Alongside the presence of regular tax income, the government applies a term mentioned above. So, what is it? This tax places the basis on the tax percentage that you should pay to the IRS or government regardless of the presence of credits or deductions.

In a big nation like the U.S, that policy has been applied to taxpayers who have reached a certain threshold of income. This concept could be devastating for beginners, but you can learn it a little bit here.

Understanding AMT 

The best method to learn something new is by listening to examples. Let’s say there are two people who have identical jobs and incomes. They are person A and person B. In this past year, they earned $400,000 in salary.

Let’s assume that person A has no deductions claimed and he needs to pay a regular tax of $150,000 for that year. That means he can file it right away for the sake of simplicity.

Now let’s assume person B claimed some credits or deductions, so he only needs to pay $80,000 as a regular income tax. These deductions are the result of things that they could write off from their income.

However, the IRS or government doesn’t like the comparison. As the result, they apply a certain percentage to a completely different tax code. Those people need to calculate both their regular tax and alternative minimum tax..

The general idea is you calculate both taxes and pay the higher of the two. That means the AMT for person A could be around $95,000 and for person B is about the same, which is $95,000.

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This ensures that people who have an income cannot deduct it all away from their tax and pay a very low amount, which sounds unfair to both non-deductions taxpayers and the government.

The Calculation of Alternative Minimum Tax

Based on the explanation above, you can assume that the AMT is meant for preventing taxpayers from avoiding their tax liability fair share through deductions. One thing that you should concern about the most is related to the calculation.

To determine if you owe AMT, you can simply use tools like tax software. This product can calculate it automatically. As an alternative, you can fill out IRS Form 6251.

Most taxpayers would take advantage of the form instead of using the alternative minimum tax software. It takes various deductions like home mortgage interest, medical expenses, and others to determine whether those tax breaks are beyond the limit set by the government.

When filling out the form, you need to include various incomes like private activity bonds, tax refunds, investment interest, and many others. The government or IRS even has certain formulas to determine which portion of those deductions and incomes may lead to AMT.

Ways to Reduce the Alternative Minimum Tax

It is not impossible to reduce the alternative minimum tax, as long as you know the tricks. The best strategy to minimize your alternative minimum tax liability is to have a low AGI (adjusted gross income). Ideally, it should be as low as possible. Here are some of the methods:

  1. Participate in SIMPLE IRA, a 401(k) plan, and other similar programs.
  2. Create pre-tax contributions to negotiable spending accounts.
  3. Take advantage of employer-sponsored cafeteria plans to pay for other costs like life insurance.
  4. Pay attention to the timing of certain payments. Don’t ever pay your 2022 property bill in 2021! The purpose is to get discounts for paying in advance. This somehow helps you to reduce AMT liability.
  5. Taking tax credits can also be helpful. The idea is to take advantage of nonrefundable tax credits to offset the AMT. These include the foreign tax credit and dependent care credit.
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Things That Increase the Chances to Pay AMT

For some taxpayers, this alternative minimum tax can be quite troublesome. There are also several things that can increase its inclusion. What are they?

  1. Have a large family
  2. Live in an area with high-income taxes or high real estate taxes
  3. Claim various itemized deductions
  4. Hold private activity bonds
  5. Hold and exercise incentive stock options

Further Information to Know

Certain tax benefits can reduce a big number in your regular tax amount. The presence of AMT would neutralize it, especially among those who have a high income. It works well by setting a limit on tax breaks.

Even though you have read basic information regarding the calculation above, it is more complex than you think. It represents the excess of tentative minimum tax over the regular one.

So, are you subject to this tax? It is easy to find out, as you only need to refer to the AMT line instructions included in form 1040. If by any chance you become the subject to alternative minimum tax, you should fill and attach form 6251.

By applying this type of tax, the government ensures that taxpayers would pay their share fairly regardless of where they live. These include provinces and states of the nation.

Here is the good news. Those who become subject to AMT can convert this cost into carry-forward credit, which can be used later to reduce their tax liabilities for the next 7 years. So, use these well later.

What about the amount? The calculation is simple. If the regular tax is bigger than AMT, you only need to pay the regular one. On the other hand, the AMT becomes compulsory when you get a low regular tax to pay.


To summarize what you have read above, here are some points to understand:

  1. l AMT ensures taxpayers pay their fair share. At least, they pay the minimum of it.
  2. l In general rule, alternative minimum tax won’t apply to taxpayers until reaches a certain threshold or level. Two years later, the limit is around $113,400 for those who fill it jointly.

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