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2017 Alternative Minimum Tax

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Alternative Minimum Tax

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) was created in the 1960s to prevent high-income taxpayers from avoiding the individual income tax. This parallel tax income system requires high-income taxpayers to calculate their tax bill twice: once under the ordinary income tax system and again under the AMT. The taxpayer then needs to pay the higher of the two.

The AMT uses an alternative definition of taxable income called Alternative Minimum Taxable Income (AMTI). To prevent low- and middle-income taxpayers from being subject to the AMT, taxpayers are allowed to exempt a significant amount of their income from AMTI. However, this exemption phases out for high-income taxpayers. The AMT is levied at two rates: 26 percent and 28 percent.

The AMT exemption amount for 2017 is $54,300 for singles and $84,500 for married couples filing jointly (Table 7).

Table 7. 2017 Alternative Minimum Tax Exemptions

Filing Status Exemption Amount
Single $54,300
Married Filing Jointly $84,500
Married Filing Separately $42,250
Trusts & Estates $24,100
Source: IRS.

In 2017, the 28 percent AMT rate applies to excess AMTI of $187,800 for all taxpayers ($93,900 for married couples filing joint returns).

Under current law, AMT exemptions phase out at 25 cents per dollar earned once taxpayer AMTI hits a certain threshold. In 2017, the exemption will start phasing out at $120,700 in AMTI for single filers and $160,900 for married taxpayers filing jointly (Table 8.

Table 8. 2017 Alternative Minimum Tax Exemption Phaseout Thresholds

Filing Status Threshold
Single $120,700
Married Filing Jointly $160,900
Married Filing Separately, Estates and Trusts $80,450
Source: IRS.


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