What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Corporate Tax Breaks, General : A vote on final passage of the Republican Alternative Minimum Tax bill (HR 4227) to extend for one year the current income exemptions -- up to $40,250 for individual taxpayers and $58,000 for married couples -- from the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
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A vote on final passage of the Republican Alternative Minimum Tax bill (HR 4227) to extend for one year the current income exemptions -- up to $40,250 for individual taxpayers and $58,000 for married couples -- from the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
house Roll Call 144     May 05, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

The House passed this so-called Alternative Minimum Tax bill (HR 4227) amid the efforts of conservatives, who were acting to uphold President Bush's demand for this legislation. The vote on final passage was a lopsided 333-89, with all "no" votes coming from among Democrats. The bill that would extend for one year the current income exemptions -- up to $40,250 for individual taxpayers and $58,000 for married couples -- from the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That means individuals and couples would not have to pay taxes on income up to those levels under the AMT. The AMT was created under President Nixon to prevent wealthy Americans and big corporations from using legitimate tax breaks to avoid paying income taxes altogether. More than three decades later, because of the failure to index it for inflation, the number of taxpayers subject to the so-called alternative minimum tax (AMT) has exploded to include many in the middle class, far beyond the intended target group. And there is widespread support in both parties for a permanent restructuring of the 1969 law. But faced with mounting deficits and rising costs for the Iraq war, lawmakers agreed on a short-term fix - and postponing expensive long-range changes until after the elections. The House's vote to pass HR 4227 would continue for one year current exemptions from the AMT, with an adjustment for inflation. The measure, estimated to cost $17.8 billion in forgone revenue over 10 years, was sponsored by Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) Conservatives argued the bill would "prevent millions of middle-class, middle-income Americans from paying higher taxes next year," but progressives countered that the legislation amounted to "yet another cynical ploy of gimmicks and illusions masquerading as long-term tax policy." Conservatives said they are for eliminating the alternative minimum tax, because it adds complexity to the tax code and affects many of the middle class. However, progressives noted, the minimum tax also acts as a back-up to the regular corporate income tax, and is designed to assure that profitable corporations pay at least some income tax even if they can otherwise take advantage of a plethora of loopholes. Progressives thus charged that conservatives are just working for the corporations, and that it is just as easy to adjust the law as it is to do away with it. According to progressives, many of the corporations that have been pushing Congress to gut the minimum tax are profitable companies that pay no income tax, and in opposing HR 4227, progressives referenced a Treasury Department estimate in 1995 that AMT changes such as those envisioned in the current House tax plan would take 76,000 profitable corporations completely off the tax rolls.

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