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Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Definition and How It Works

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The Alternative Minimum Tax: What Is It?

No matter how many deductions or credits a filer claims, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) sets a floor on the proportion of taxes the filer must pay to the government. There is now an alternative minimum tax in the U.S. for taxpayers with incomes exceeding specific limits. After reentering specified tax preference items into adjusted gross income, the AMT recalculates income tax. The rules used to determine taxable income following permitted deductions are different.

The taxpayer’s income is included back into their alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI), from which the AMT exemption is reduced to arrive at their ultimate taxable amount.

How Alternative Minimum Taxes Are Calculated

The appropriate rate schedule is used to tax the difference between a taxpayer’s alternative minimum taxable income and his AMT exemption. The result is the TMT or tentative minimum tax. The taxpayer must pay the regular tax and the amount by which the tentative minimum tax exceeds the regular tax if it is more than the regular tax they owe for the year. Therefore, the taxpayer is responsible for paying the whole estimated minimum tax.

The alternative minimum tax has two rates: 26% and 28%. For 2022, the excess alternative minimum taxable income must be at least $206,100 for all taxpayers ($103,050 for married couples filing separate returns) to be taxed at the 28% rate. The excess alternative minimum taxable income of $220,700 or more for all taxpayers in 2023 (or $110,350 for married couples filing separate returns) is subject to a 28% rate. For incomes up to certain amounts, the 26% rate is applicable.

Under the conventional rules, a taxpayer who earns a lot of money and takes advantage of many tax benefits can owe less money overall. If so, the alternative minimum tax system, eliminating some tax incentives, requires the person to recalculate the taxes payable. Whichever sum is larger, the taxpayer is responsible for it.

Exemption amounts for AMT

The AMT exemption for single taxpayers in 2022 is $75,900. For married couples filing jointly, the amount is $118,100. The amounts are $81,300 for solo taxpayers and $126,500 for married couples filing jointly for tax year 2023.

Taxpayers must fill out form 6251 to determine whether they would owe AMT. They deduct the exemption sum from their income first. They are exempt from paying AMT if their AMT is less than the exemption amount.

However, it’s crucial to remember that taxpayers having AMTI beyond a specific limit are not eligible for the AMT exemption. The phase-out threshold for single taxpayers for tax year 2022 is $539,900, and for married couples filing jointly, it is $1,079,800. The phase-out starts at $578,150 for single taxpayers and $1,156,300 for tax year 2023.

The goal of AMT

AMT is intended to stop people from using tax benefits to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The structure, however, was not previously adjusted for inflation or tax reductions. Due to a scenario known as “bracket creep,” which might occur as a result, middle-class taxpayers rather than merely the rich taxpayers for whom the AMT was designed could be liable to this tax. But in 2012, Congress approved a measure that indexed the AMT exemption sum to inflation.

AMT calculation

People can use tax software that automatically calculates the AMT or complete IRS Form 6251 to discover whether they owe it. This form helps tax filers evaluate if their deductions exceed an overall IRS cap by considering medical costs, house mortgage interest, and other supplemental deductions.

Along with asking for information on specific forms of income like tax refunds, investment interest, and bond interest, the form also asks for numbers that represent capital gains or losses tied to the sale of property.

To calculate the share of this income and deductions, the tax filers need to note on Form 6251 that the IRS has put in place precise algorithms. It applies a different set of calculations to establish how these values result in AMTI.

The AMT: What Is It?

It’s a tax that high-income people must pay even if they may normally owe little to no taxes under the normal U.S. tax code. It entails adopting a different tax system than the conventional one. Each determines the amount of tax due. Whichever is higher is covered by the taxpayer.

What Does the AMT Exemption in 2022 and 2023 Mean?

The AMT exemption is $75,900 for single taxpayers and $118,100 for married couples filing jointly for tax year 2022. The amounts are $81,300 and $126,500 for tax year 2023.

Does the AMT Take Inflation into Account?

Yes, but only infrequently until the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was passed. DUE TO THAT LAW, the AMT was supposed to be permanently linked to inflation. The AMT exemption and the income threshold at which the exemption started to phase out were both raised by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. As a result, fewer persons were impacted by the AMT. After 2025, these modifications will become obsolete.

To ensure that high-income individuals pay their fair share of taxes, the United States has an extra or parallel tax system called the Alternative Minimum Tax. Due to preferential treatment of certain income and expenses or tax benefits, some people paid little in taxes before the AMT.


  • The AMT makes sure that certain taxpayers pay a minimal amount of tax or at least their fair portion of taxes. It doesn’t take effect until after income exceeds a specific exemption threshold.
  • The exemption for single taxpayers in 2022 is $75,900, while for married couples filing jointly, it is $118,100.
  • The exemption for 2023 is $126,500 for married couples filing jointly and $81,300 for single taxpayers.
  • To protect middle-income taxpayers from having to pay AMT due to bracket creep, Congress approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 in 2012. This law indexes the exemption amount to inflation.

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