No sooner was House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel's proposal for overhauling the alternative minimum tax released than it was pronounced "dead on arrival."

Rangel, D-N.Y., hopes to get Congress to consider his Tax Code overhaul, known as the Tax Reduction and Reform Act of 2007, by next year while first passing a temporary fix for the AMT before it mushrooms by another 20 million taxpayers. But so far the prospects are not looking too good for his proposals.

It's no surprise that legislators on the other side of the aisle have pounced on Rangel's plan, calling it the "mother of all tax hikes" in contrast to Rangel's own label of "mother of all tax reforms." Estimates of the impact of the tax hike have ranged northward of a trillion dollars, and few legislators in either party seem willing to have such a steep tax increase associated with them, especially in the midst of the election season.

That might explain why Rangel's colleague, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has given the measure little outright support, saying at the Democratic debate in Philadelphia, "I think Charlie's being very courageous in moving forward. I don't agree with all the details, but he's on the right track to say we've got to do something about the AMT." Some parts of the proposed bill do enjoy some support, including the notion of repealing the much-loathed AMT. And the idea of raising taxes on managers of hedge funds and private equity firms does have the support of the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, who have been holding hearings on carried interest and related matters.

But even though the bulk of the tax hike would fall on upper income taxpayers making over $200,000 per year, taxpayers in general are understandably leery of any tax hikes of the magnitude envisioned by Rangel's bill. Keeping the AMT under control with the help of temporary patches may be the best that can be hoped for right now.


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