Alternative Minimum Tax Planning Ideas…Year-End AMT Planning Wrap-Up – Part 1
In our 10-week series of articles on tax planning for the Alternative Minimum Tax, we have looked at many things a taxpayer can do to reduce his AMT liability. With only four days left in which to act in order to reduce 2009’s taxes, here is a summary of these items, with reference to the date each article appeared on amtblog.com. Please refer back to the article for the specific tax-saving steps that still may be taken before year end.
State and local taxes
This item affects 94% of all AMT payers, yet it is one of the easiest to plan for and it can have the most direct impact on a taxpayer’s Alternative Minimum Tax. There are three types of taxes here:
1. Property taxes – by weighing the relative factors of property tax burden, percentage of AMT payers, and size of population, here is a ranking of the top 10 states that are hit the hardest by this item. Residents of these states really do need to focus on this one in particular. See the November 8th article posted on amtblog.com, “Property Taxes.”
#1 – New York
#2 – New Jersey
#3 – California
#4 – Illinois
#5 – Massachusetts
#6 – Connecticut
#7 – Maryland
#8 – Pennsylvania
#9 – Virginia
#10 – Ohio
2. Income taxes – the tax dollars here are larger, on a per-taxpayer basis, than property taxes. While the AMT planning takes a little more work than property taxes, the potential savings still are there. See the amtblog.com article posted on November 2nd, “State Income Taxes.”
3. Sales tax on new cars – this is easy money for those who bought a new car this year, or still are contemplating buying one. See the amtblog.com article posted on November 11th, “Sales Tax on New Cars.”
Stock options, in particular Incentive Stock Options (ISOs)
A large number of corporate employees, generally ranging from the mid-management level up to the “C Suite” folks, have stock options granted to them by their employers. If these options are ISOs, AMT planning is critical because of the major impact the exercise of these options can have on an individual’s Alternative Minimum Tax. Our two-part series of articles appearing on amtblog.com on December 3rd and December 6th, “Incentive Stock Options – Parts 1 and 2,” go through the basic steps in determining whether a taxpayer does in fact have an ISO – often confused with the other types of stock options and equity grants an employer may offer – and then explains how these ISO exercises trigger the AMT. This is a very important read for all those who either have exercised stock options or are contemplating exercising stock options.
The impact of capital gains on a taxpayer’s Alternative Minimum Tax can be a real surprise – and, unfortunately, not a pleasant surprise At first blush capital gains appear to be AMT-neutral, but this is far from the case. The December 13th article on amtblog.com, “Investments – Capital Gains,” explains this issue. To the extent a taxpayer has recognized capital gains in 2009, and/or “harvested” capital losses to offset capital gains, there can be a direct AMT impact. Any capital gain or loss activity between now and December 31 also will have this impact.
It is not too late to take action on any of the above items for 2009, but time is short. Once the ball drops in Times Square, you’ll be planning for 2010!
George Bauernfeind is with AMTIndividual, providing analysis, customized strategies, and an online dual tax calculator / planner to help you reduce your Alternative Minimum Tax. Visit www.amtindividual.com or www.amtblog.com to read more tax planning articles or to access this tax software on the Alternative Minimum Tax.