Taxpayers could pay more because of alternative minimum tax

by: Holly Maynard Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If Congress doesn't act soon on the fiscal cliff, hundreds of thousands of middle-class taxpayers in Charlotte could be stuck paying thousands more in taxes.

It's all because of the alternative minimum tax.  It was created years ago for millionaires who avoided paying taxes through exemptions and deductions.  Congress usually adjusts the AMT for inflation so it doesn't hurt middle class taxpayers. 

They have until Dec. 31 to agree on a new adjustment, but amidst all the debate about the fiscal cliff, it's not clear if they will. That means people with a household income as low as $45,000 may have to pay it.

“I'm saying it's worrisome," said Patsy Schober from H&R Block in Charlotte.

She said she's met a number of taxpayers who are shocked to learn they could owe a lot. Some could pay $1,200, $1,500 or more.

"Things that you got to deduct under the regular tax, you wouldn't be able to under the AMT.  You went from a refund to owing all of a sudden," she said. 

Jerry Jones told Eyewitness News the last thing he needs is more uncertainty when it comes to his finances.

"I've got kids and grandkids, and I'm pretty struggling right now, paycheck to paycheck, so kind of rough about right now," he said.  

He and other taxpayers told Channel 9 they are sick of the bickering on Capitol Hill and are ready for a compromise. 

"They just need to get it together, because they've got people out here struggling, every day," he said.

"The bottom line is they need to think about everybody, not just their party” said Claire Hargreaves, another taxpayer.

Schober said the good news is that Congress has come down to the wire before when it comes to adjusting the tax, and they've made a decision by the deadline.