The House Ways and Means Committee has passed a bill aimed at forestalling the spread of the alternative minimum tax for another year.

H.R. 6275, the Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008, would prevent the AMT from hitting more than 25 million families with a tax increase this year, according to its sponsors.

"It was our hope at the beginning of this Congress that we would eliminate the AMT entirely, rather than continue wrestling with a yearly 'patch' as we have done in the past," said Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (pictured), D-N.Y., in a statement. "However, since the administration has failed to engage on tax reform, it is impossible to remove a provision like the AMT without simplifying the entire code to bring a greater sense of fairness and equity to our tax laws."

Like the committee's attempt last year to repeal the AMT, though, the bill tries to make up for the lost revenue by closing loopholes in the Tax Code and repealing tax breaks for major oil and gas companies. Those provisions are likely to provoke a backlash from members on the other side of the aisle.

"Every year, Congress passes a one-year 'patch' to protect middle-class taxpayers from the AMT," said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., in a blog posting. "Unfortunately, in 2007, House Democrat leadership delayed until the last minute, creating major headaches for taxpayers and delaying refunds. Yesterday's action in the House Ways and Means Committee has placed us on a path to replay last year's debacle. Once again, the Democrat leadership is considering a bill that has no chance of becoming law, even though leaders in the House and Senate have already acknowledged that Congress will eventually pass an AMT fix that does not include tax increases. We should be voting on that bill today, instead of wasting precious time on a pointless political exercise."

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