Congress held hearings last week on a grab-bag of tax topics, including carried interest, the effect of the Bush administration tax cuts, and the rapidly expanding reach of the alternative minimum tax, but neither of the other two issues is the ticking time bomb that the AMT presents.

With the tax set to expand its grip from 4 million taxpayers this year to 23 million next year unless Congress acts, Congress has only a few months to make changes in or repeal the AMT before next tax season starts. So far, Congress has employed a patchwork approach in trying to keep the AMT from applying to this many taxpayers. But the patchwork approach is only keeping at bay the threat and leaving taxpayers worried that in the coming year they might be the ones who end up ensnared by the tax.

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