Let me join in with the Gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. English) in trying to eliminate this burden (the Alternative Minimum Tax or AMT) that has been placed on people that was never intended to penalize.
But you know, before we can work together on this issue, the issue has to come before the Ways and Means Committee. Now isn’t that a novel idea, a tax bill coming before the Ways and Means Committee? Why is it that we have yielded our authority and jurisdiction to the Rules Committee? Isn’t this something that should not be a partisan issue? Isn’t this AMT bill adversely affecting Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals?
Why do we have to, in the middle of the night, shift this over to the Rules Committee and then come to the House floor and say we want to put $17 billion dollars more onto the debt, and we are only going to fix the problem for one year. That is truly unfair!
Why do you give tax relief for the marriage penalty, and then take it back away with the Alternative Minimum Tax? Why do we have this sloppy way to develop a tax code that is so complicated that it takes hours for people to figure out how to get the benefits that we say that we are giving to them?
So, what I am saying to my friend from Pennsylvania is please don’t tell us how you are going to struggle to make this remedy permanent. Tell us how we can get the jurisdiction back in the Ways and Means Committee. It would be wonderful if you were saying that we were going to schedule hearings on this so witnesses can come forward.
And while you are doing that, would you please tell the American people whether they are providing this tax relief by increasing the debt at the expense of their children and grandchildren.
Wouldn’t it be good to know how you intend to pay for this ? Where do we get the $17 billion dollars? Do we take it from the Department of Defense as we fight in Iraq? Do we take it from Homeland Security? Or do we borrow it so the Chinese can buy our debt? I don’t know! I am 74 so it may not be my problem! But it maybe the problem of our children and our grandchildren as we give relief on the one hand and then we take it back from our children and grandchildren.
This is no place to legislate this complex legislation. And I just hope that, no matter what happens at the end of this year, that somebody has the guts to say that tax legislation should come form the Ways and Means Committee, not the distinguished Rules Committee.
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Description of Democratic Substitute to H.R. 4227
The substitute would provide temporary relief from the AMT that is more broad and simpler than the relief contained in H.R. 4227. The substitute would simply eliminate AMT liability for all taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is less than $250,000 ($125,000 for single taxpayers). Above those income levels, AMT liabilities would be phased in over a $40,000 range ($20,000 for single individuals).
The substitute would provide a framework for total reform of the AMT. It would require the Secretary of the Treasury to promptly submit legislative recommendations to the Congress, and it would require the Committee on Ways and Means to act on those recommendations this summer. It is time for the Congress to be honest with the American taxpayers.
Finally, the substitute would be revenue neutral. Its cost would be offset by restrictions on tax shelters that have been approved in the Senate on a bipartisan basis. The AMT was designed to ensure that all taxpayers pay a minimum amount of tax and, in effect, limited the ability to use tax loopholes. The substitute would directly address those tax avoidance transactions, thereby minimizing the need for the minimum tax.