Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Impuesto Minimo Alternativo: Tendón de Aquiles de la Clase Media

He aquí un interesante artículo relacionado al impacto y la controversia que está ocasionando el Impuesto Minímo Alternativo en los Estados Unidos, en la medida que este va afectando cada vez más y más a familias de clase media para abajo.

El problema está, es que cuando se dio la introducción de este impuesto, que se supone estaba dirigido a la clase alta para evitar el abuso de las deducciones, no se tomo en cuenta el impacto que tiene la inflación sobre el poder adquisitivo.

Una persona que ganaba $100,000 hace 30 años en los EEUU, y podía considerarse "adinerada", y por lo tanto debía aplicarsele el Impuesto Minimo Alternativo, hoy, ganar lo mismo la pone en la línea de la clase media, pero aun así ante el Impuesto Minimo Alternativo, esta persona es considerada de clase alta aunque el $1.00 que gana hoy, no compra ni un tercio de lo que pudo haber comprado hace 30 años y por ende debe pagar el impuesto alternativo. Con la nuevas reformas, en Panamá también se ha fijado el ingreso minímo sin considerar el impacto inflacionario sobre el poder adquisitivo.

Así pues, este impuesto habrá de expander la base impositiva afectando cada vez más y más personas, incluyendo a aquellas cuyos ingresos en terminos reales, distan mucho de ser considerados dignos de clase alta. Ante esta triste realidad, por lo menos en Estados Unidos, se esta considerando revisar indexando el impuesto a la inflación o eliminar del todo lo que se ha convertido en el Tendón de Alquiles de la clase media.

Millions More May Pay AMT for 2006
Monday December 26, 12:00 pm ET

Number of Taxpayers Who Pay Alternative Minimum Tax for 2006 Could Soar Without Legislation

NEW YORK (AP) -- The alternative minimum tax is becoming even stickier -- and could entangle even more taxpayers next year. Congress is expected to recess for the holidays without an agreement on how to limit the effect of the AMT for 2006. While the AMT is expected to affect about 4 million taxpayers for 2005, that number will swell to about 21.6 million for 2006 unless Congress acts to lessen the impact.

Congress has said it will do so next year, making it retroactive to Jan. 1, but it's still unclear exactly how that will play out, since other initiatives, like extending cuts on capital gains and dividends, loom in the background. "Congress can address that dilemma, or growing probability of AMT exposure, by passing legislation that retroactively reduces that bite, and it would probably be as simple as maintaining or increasing the exemption amount," says John Nersesian, wealth-management strategist at Nuveen Investments. "The exemption is used to ensure that moderate-income taxpayers do not fall victim to the tax."

The AMT was never intended for the masses: It's a parallel tax system that was installed in the late 1960s to ensure the wealthiest Americans were paying their fair share of taxes by reducing the amount of deductions they can take. However, it was never indexed for inflation and has increasingly trapped more middle-class taxpayers. Indeed, both proposals to revamp the tax code announced last month by the Federal Tax Reform advisery panel recommended eliminating the AMT.

To determine AMT tax liability, two calculations are necessary: one under the traditional tax system and another under the AMT system, where various deductions -- such as state and local income taxes, property taxes, miscellaneous deductions and personal exemptions and others -- are added back. You must pay the greater of the two.

Though the AMT rate is either 26 percent or 28 percent -- a lower rate than the highest marginal tax bracket of 35 percent -- it's applied to a wider base of income, making that tax bill more costly. Also, unlike the traditional tax code, the AMT isn't a progressive tax, but rather a flat tax.

Those most likely to be hit are individuals in high-tax states like New York and California with many deductions, such as small-business owners whose companies are structured as passthrough entities (meaning income flows through to the individual returns).