The House has passed a fix for the alternative minimum tax to keep it from spreading to more taxpayers next year, as well as a separate bill to provide tax relief to businesses and families affected by natural disasters.

The Senate passed similar legislation on Tuesday, but the House decided to break up the bill into four sections (see Senate Passes Tax Extenders and AMT Patch). The House passed the AMT patch and disaster relief bills on Wednesday, and a bill providing parity for mental health treatment in insurance benefits on Tuesday, but was still working on the tax extenders and clean energy incentives parts of the bill on Thursday.

The AMT bill passed by a 393-30 margin, while the disaster relief bill passed by a vote of 419-4. The AMT bill provides a one-year patch, instead of the permanent fix originally sought by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. The AMT patch was passed without any compensating offsets to pay for the measure, which is estimated to cost the Treasury $64.608 billion over 10 years. It will protect approximately 20 million to 24 million taxpayers from being subject to the AMT.

Rangel (pictured) has been facing tax challenges of his own (see Rangel to Hire Forensic Accountant). The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct voted Wednesday to begin an ethics probe of his negligence in paying taxes on $75,000 in rental income from a property that he owned in the Dominican Republic. Rangel has indicated he would cooperate with the ethics investigation, and he wrote six checks totaling $10,800 last week to settle federal and state taxes for the property.

He hailed the passage of the disaster relief tax bill, which would provide targeted tax relief to businesses and families affected by the natural disasters in 2008.

"This legislation provides a national, flexible framework to give all Americans relief in the unfortunate event that they are hit by a natural disaster," Rangel said in a statement. "This bill makes certain that every victim of natural disaster gets the relief they need to rebuild their homes, their businesses and their lives. This bill does not pick winners and losers, or leave the recovery of these communities to a handful of people with great political influence."

The legislation would establish a flexible, national plan for dealing with disaster relief that would extend to floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes or any other disaster that receives a federal disaster declaration.

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