Effort To Stop Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Leads Senate Minority To Reject Its Own Proposal
Baucus legislation will protect 19 million American families from unfair tax increase; minority objections to fiscal responsibility forced elimination of provisions to pay for bill
Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) won passage tonight of legislation that would protect 19 million American families from being hit by the alternative minimum tax (AMT) this year. The AMT was created in 1969 to keep wealthy people from avoiding taxes altogether, but has started to hit working families instead. The Baucus amendment approved tonight allows credits and increases the exemptions taxpayers can claim to avoid paying the AMT in 2007, which will prevent the “stealth tax” from applying to those who didn’t pay it last year. The amendment, which does not include offsets for the cost of AMT relief this year, passed after a House bill containing offsets failed to win sufficient votes – and after numerous minority objections before and after the Thanksgiving recess to requests for various votes on the AMT.
The Finance Chairman is a proponent of full repeal of the alternative minimum tax, and introduced legislation earlier this year to do so.
“Protecting working families from the alternative minimum tax is one of my top tax priorities this year. The legislation the Senate has now passed will keep millions of Americans from falling victim this year to a tax they were never meant to pay. And it remains my goal to repeal AMT altogether,” Baucus said. “I’m disappointed that the votes weren’t there to pay for this bill, but I’m not sorry for choosing to protect taxpayers from the AMT even at some cost. Too many folks are at risk of an unfair tax increase if Congress fails to act on the AMT. Now I plan to work with the House to end this drawn-out process on the AMT, and to get this tax relief signed into law as quickly as possible.”
Following are Baucus’s remarks immediately prior to the vote:
Floor Statement of Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Regarding Senate Passage of AMT Legislation
Mr. President, I am gratified that at long last, the Senate is acting to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting 19 million more American taxpayers.
We tried to save those 19 million families from the AMT on November 15, when the Majority Leader asked consent to do so.
We tried to save those 19 million families from the AMT on repeated occasions this week.
Most recently, today we tried to save those 19 million families from the AMT by moving to the House-passed bill.
And when the other side blocked us, we tried to save those 19 million families from the AMT by asking consent to pass the legislation that we have before us now. But at every step, the Republican Caucus objected.
I am gratified that at long last, the Republican Caucus has agreed to let us act now. Perhaps the third time is a charm. Or the fourth. Or the fifth.
And so I will support this effort to save those 19 million families from the AMT. The bill before us is plainly not my first choice of how to do so. But this is our best choice to do so.
And let me once more remind people for why we need to act.
We need to act because if we don’t, nearly 12 million families with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 will pay the AMT next year.
We need to act because if we don’t, nearly five million families with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 will pay the AMT next year.
We need to act because if we don’t, remarkably, Mr. President, nearly two and a half million families with incomes of less than $75,000 will have to pay the AMT next year.
We need to stop that from happening. We need to keep the AMT from hitting any more families than it already does.
And so I urge my Colleagues to join me in voting for the bill.
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