As Washington struggles to fix the alternative minimum tax to prevent it from spreading to an estimated 23 million taxpayers, consumer tax prep software vendor 2nd Story Software is offering a peek at how the AMT would affect tax returns prepared under either scenario with its TaxAct software.

The company's TaxAct Preview allows taxpayers to see what their refund amount would be if a proposed temporary fix to the AMT passes, and if it doesn't. Taxpayers can go to the site to prepare their returns, and it takes into account the variations in the 12 forms affected by the AMT.

The House has already passed legislation to patch the AMT temporarily, as it does every year, but the Senate does not plan to take up the legislation until after it returns from its Thanksgiving break, when it has a narrow window of time to pass the bill before the Christmas break.

However, President Bush has threatened to veto the House version of the bill because of some of its provisions. Meanwhile, the delay in patching the AMT threatens to delay the processing of billions of dollars in tax refunds.

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