Dec 06, 2000

Alternative Minimum Mischief

A ton of people's taxes are going up on January 1 unless the leftists in Congress act now....

Nancy Pelosi's House Democrats made their last stand for tax increases on Thursday, voting 234-188 to extend tax rates that expire this month only for some taxpayers. The soon to be former Speaker knows this has no chance of passing when the Senate votes as early as today, but apparently the liberal base must be served, no matter how pointless the gesture.

Meanwhile, another tax increase is about to hit the economy unless Congress acts by the end of the month. The dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax hike that usually whacks about four million upper-income households is scheduled to hit 26 million filers this tax year because Congress hasn't indexed the AMT income threshold for inflation. So a tax designed in 1969 to hit about 200 taxpayers may sock families with incomes as low as $60,000 a year. You know, "the rich." The average AMT surcharge will be about $2,000, according to ranking Republican Charles Grassley on the Senate Finance Committee.

Columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady in New York and senior economics writer Steve Moore from Washington analyze the impact of bad unemployment numbers on the Washington tax debate.

This Congressional abdication is too much even for IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, an Obama appointee, who wrote a letter this week scolding Congressional leaders for playing politics with the tax code. Mr. Shulman warned that tax refund payments could be delayed next year for millions of filers and IRS tax forms may have the wrong information. Taxpayers may also face the frustration of having to file their tax returns twice. "I want to stress that it would be extremely detrimental to the entire tax filing season and to tens of millions of taxpayers if tax law changes affecting 2010 are deferred and then retroactively enacted in 2011," Mr. Shulman wrote.

President Obama realizes he has no political choice other than to work with Republicans to avoid this tax debacle, but Democrats in Congress still want to posture as defenders of the "middle class" while raising taxes on the millions of small business owners who employ the middle class. This crowd can't become a minority fast enough.

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