Topic 556 – Alternative Minimum Tax
The tax law provides exclusions for certain kinds of income and deductions and credits for certain expenses. The alternative minimum tax (AMT) attempts to ensure that an individual who benefits from certain exclusions, deductions, or credits pays at least a minimum amount of tax.
The AMT is a separately figured tax that eliminates or reduces many exclusions and deductions. In addition, certain credits (generally, business-related credits) cannot be used to offset the AMT. Thus the AMT increases the tax liability of an individual who would otherwise pay less tax. The AMT tax rates on ordinary income are percentages set by law. For capital gains and certain dividends, the rates in effect for the regular tax are used.
You may have to pay the AMT if your taxable income for regular tax purposes plus any adjustments and preference items that apply to you are more than the AMT exemption amount. The exemption amounts are set by law for each filing status and are listed in the Form 6251 Instructions.
To find out if you may be subject to the AMT, refer to the Form 1040 Instructions and the Form 1040A Instructions. If you are filing the Form 1040 you may use the AMT Assistant for Individuals, which is an electronic version of the AMT worksheet available on the IRS web page atwww.irs.gov. The AMT worksheet may tell you that you do not owe the AMT or it may direct you to Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax – Individuals. If you are directed to Form 6251, you will have to complete that form to determine whether you owe the AMT. Form 6251 (PDF),Alternative Minimum Tax – Individuals, is available in a PDF format on the IRS web page.
If you are not liable for AMT this year, but you paid AMT in one or more previous years, you may be eligible to take a special minimum tax credit against your regular tax this year. If eligible, you should complete and attach Form 8801 (PDF), Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax – Individuals, Estates, and Trusts.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 22, 2011
IRS Tax Tip 2012-64
If you owe tax with your federal tax return, but can’t afford to pay it all when you file, the IRS wants you to know your options and help you keep interest and penalties to a minimum.
Here are five tips:
1. File your return on time and pay as much as you can with the return. These steps will eliminate the late filing penalty, reduce the late payment penalty and cut down on interest charges. For electronic and credit card options for paying see IRS.gov. You may also mail a check payable to the United States Treasury
2. Consider obtaining a loan or paying by credit card. The interest rate and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be lower than interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code.
3. Request an installment payment agreement. You do not need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before requesting a payment agreement. Options for requesting an agreement include:
• Using the Online Payment Agreement application and
• Completing and submitting IRS Form 9465-FS, Installment Agreement Request, with your return
IRS charges a user fee to set up your payment agreement. See www.irs.gov or the installment agreement request form for fee amounts.
4. Request an extension of time to pay. For tax year 2011, qualifying individuals may request an extension of time to pay and have the late payment penalty waived as part of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative. To see if you qualify visit www.irs.gov and get form 1127-A, Application for Extension of Time for Payment. But hurry, your application must be filed by April 17, 2012.
5. If you receive a bill from the IRS, please contact us immediately to discuss these and other payment options. Ignoring the bill will only compound your problem and could lead to IRS collection action.
If you can’t pay in full and on time, the key to minimizing your penalty and interest charges is to pay as much as possible by the tax deadline and the balance as soon as you can. For more information on the IRS collection process go to or see IRSVideos.gov/OweTaxes.