Among the many forms and publications the IRS continually updates, including Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax Individuals, each year the IRS reissues its massive Publication 17, entitled Your Federal Income Tax. This is, in essence, a master guide to everything you need to know about individual income taxes. Its length has grown over the years for 2009, the latest edition just released, it is a book-length 305 pages.
Pub 17 is a useful planning tool because it attempts to explain everything in a simple, summary style. In the midst of our 10-week series of articles focusing in some detail on the individual items that can put a taxpayer into the AMT, it may be an appropriate time to just step back, catch ones breath, and take a look at the big picture again. Here is how Pub 17 explains the Alternative Minimum Tax:
This section briefly discusses an additional tax you may have to pay.
The tax law gives special treatment to some kinds of income and allows special deductions and credits for some kinds of expenses. Taxpayers who benefit from the law in these ways may have to pay at least a minimum amount of tax through an additional tax. This additional tax is called the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
You may have to pay the alternative minimum tax if your taxable income for regular tax purposes, combined with certain adjustments and tax preference items, is more than:
*$70,950 if your filing status is married filing a joint return (or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child),
*$46,700 if your filing status is single or head of household, or
*$35,475 if your filing status is married filing a separate return.
Adjustments and tax preference items. The more common adjustments and tax preference items include:
*Addition of personal exemptions,
*Addition of the standard deduction (if claimed),
*Addition of itemized deductions claimed for state and local taxes, certain interest, most miscellaneous deductions, and part of medical expenses,
*Subtraction of any refund of state and local taxes included in gross income,
*Changes to accelerated depreciation of certain property,
*Difference between gain or loss on the sale of property reported for regular tax purposes and AMT purposes,
*Addition of certain income from incentive stock options,
*Change in certain passive activity loss deductions,
*Addition of certain depletion that is more then the adjusted basis of the property,
*Addition of part of the deduction for certain intangible drilling costs, and
*Addition of tax-exempt interest on certain private activity bonds.
For more information about the alternative minimum tax, see the instructions for Form 1040, line 45, and Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax Individuals.