WASHINGTON (AP)—The economic threat that’s kept many Americans on edge for months is nearing reality—unless the White House and Republicans cut a budget deal by New Year’s Day.
Huge tax increases. Deep cuts in domestic and defense programs. The likelihood of sinking stock prices, reduced consumer spending and corporate layoffs. The risk of a recession within months.
If it isn’t fixed again, roughly 33 million taxpayers, including married couples with income as low as $45,000—down from $74,450 in 2011—could face the AMT. Previously, only 5 million taxpayers had to pay it. Taxpayers subject to the AMT must calculate their tax under both the regular system and the AMT and pay the larger amount. Without a fix, a middle-income household would pay an average of $1,231 more, according to the Tax Policy Center.
The IRS has said it assumes Congress and the White House will fix the AMT in a deal to avoid the cliff. If they don’t, the IRS will need weeks to reprogram computers and make other adjustments. In the meantime, about 100 million taxpayers couldn’t file tax returns early next year because they couldn’t determine whether they owe the AMT. Refunds would be delayed.
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