The Alternative Minimum Tax attempts to ensure that anyone who benefits from certain tax advantages pays at least a minimum amount of tax. The AMT provides an alternative set of rules for calculating your income tax. In general, these rules should determine the minimum amount of tax that someone with your income should be required to pay. If your regular tax falls below this minimum, you have to make up the difference by paying alternative minimum tax.

Here are six facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about the AMT and changes for 2011.

  1. Tax laws provide tax benefits for certain kinds of income and allow special deductions and credits for certain expenses. These benefits can drastically reduce some taxpayers' tax obligations. Congress created the AMT in 1969, targeting higher-income taxpayers who could claim so many deductions they owed little or no income tax.
  2. Because the AMT is not indexed for inflation, a growing number of middle-income taxpayers are discovering they are subject to the AMT.
  3. You may have to pay the AMT if your taxable income for regular tax purposes, plus any adjustments and preference items that apply to you, are more than the AMT exemption amount.
  4. The AMT exemption amounts are set by law for each filing status.
  5. For tax year 2011, Congress raised the AMT exemption amounts to the following levels
    • $74,450 for a married couple filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers;
    • $48,450 for singles and heads of household;
    • $37,225 for a married person filing separately.
  6. The minimum AMT exemption amount for a child whose unearned income is taxed at the parents' tax rate has increased to $6,800 for 2011.

Use the AMT Assistant at www.irs.gov to determine whether you may be subject to the AMT. You can find more information about the Alternative Minimum Tax and how it affects you by accessing IRS Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax —Individuals, and its instructions at www.irs.gov. You can also order the form by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

TaxACT Free Federal and Deluxe Editions help you determine whether you're subject to the AMT, and if so, guide you through Form 6251. Start your federal return now.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

August 1 — Form 720 taxes
File Form 720 for the second quarter of 2016.

August 1 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during June.

August 1 — Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in June.

August 1 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the second quarter of 2016. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules.

August 1 — Certain small employers
Deposit any undeposited tax if your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2016 but less than $2,500 for the second quarter.

August 1 — Federal unemployment tax
Deposit the tax owed through June if more than $500.

August 1 — All employers
If you maintain an employee benefit plan, such as a pension, profitsharing, or stock bonus plan, file Form 5500 or 5500EZ for calendar year 2015. If you use a fiscal year as your plan year, file the form by the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends.

August 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during July, report them to your employer - Details

August 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the second quarter of 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.

August 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of July.

August 12 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of July.

August 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in July.

August 15 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in July.

August 25 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of July.

August 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of August.

August 31 — Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in July.

August 31 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during July.

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