Cereus Financial Advisors
David Haas, CFP®
795 Franklin Avenue
Building B, Suite 205
Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417
Fax: 201-848-6803

2017 Federal Income Tax Planning

Key AMT "triggers" include the number of personal exemptions you claim, your miscellaneous itemized deductions, and your state and local tax deductions.

TIP: If you owe AMT, you may be able to lower your total tax (regular tax plus AMT) by claiming itemized deductions on Form 1040, even if your total itemized deductions are less than the standard deduction. This is because the standard deduction is not allowed for the AMT and, if you claim the standard deduction on Form 1040, you cannot claim itemized deductions for the AMT.

Source: 2015 Instructions for Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax, Individuals


Understanding the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

What is the AMT?

The AMT is essentially a separate federal income tax system with its own tax rates and its own set of rules governing the recognition and timing of income and expenses. If you're subject to the AMT, you have to calculate your taxes twice — once under the regular tax system and again under the AMT system. If your income tax liability under the AMT is greater than your liability under the regular tax system, the difference is reported as an additional tax on your federal income tax return. If you're subject to the AMT in one year, you may be entitled to a credit that can be applied against regular tax liability in future years.

Who is liable for the AMT?

Key AMT "triggers" include the number of personal exemptions you claim, your miscellaneous itemized deductions, and your state and local tax deductions. So, for example, if you have a large family and live in a high-tax state, there's a good possibility that you might have to contend with the AMT. IRS Form 1040 instructions include a worksheet that may help you determine whether you're subject to the AMT (an electronic version of this worksheet is also available on the IRS website), but you might need to complete IRS Form 6251 to know for sure.

Common AMT adjustments

Here are some of the more common AMT adjustments.

Standard deduction and personal exemptions

The federal standard deduction, generally available under the regular tax system if you don't itemize deductions, is not allowed for purposes of calculating the AMT. Nor can you take a deduction for personal exemptions.

Itemized deductions

Under the AMT calculation, no deduction is allowed for state and local taxes paid, or for certain miscellaneous itemized deductions. You can only deduct qualifying residence interest (e.g., mortgage or home equity loan interest) to the extent the loan proceeds are used to purchase, construct, or improve a principal residence.

Exercise of incentive stock options (ISOs)

Under the regular tax system, tax is generally deferred until you sell the acquired stock. But for AMT purposes, when you exercise an ISO, income is generally recognized to the extent that the fair market value of the acquired shares exceeds the option price. This means that a significant ISO exercise in a year can trigger AMT liability. If ISOs are exercised and sold in the same year, however, no AMT adjustment is needed, because any income would be recognized for regular tax purposes as well.


If you're depreciating assets (for example, if you're a sole proprietor and own an asset for business use), you'll have to calculate depreciation twice — once under regular income tax rules and once under AMT rules.

AMT exemption amounts

While the AMT takes away personal exemptions and a number of deductions, it provides specific AMT exemptions. The amount of AMT exemption to which you're entitled depends on your filing status.

Your exemption amount, however, begins to phase out once your taxable income exceeds a certain threshold. (Specifically, your exemption amount is reduced by $0.25 for every $1.00 you have in taxable income over the threshold amount.)

AMT Exemption Amounts by Filing Status
Married filing jointly$84,500
Single or head of household$54,300
Married filing separately$42,250
AMT Exemption Phaseout Threshold
Married filing jointly$160,900
Single or head of household$120,700
Married filing separately$80,450

Note:  In the context of AMT exemption amounts and tax rates, taxable income really refers to your alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI). Your AMTI is your regular taxable income increased or decreased by AMT preferences and adjustments.

The lower maximum tax rates that generally apply to long-term capital gains and qualified dividends apply to the AMT calculation as well. So even under AMT rules, a maximum rate of 20%, 15% (for individuals in the 25%, 28%, 33%, or 35% tax bracket), or 0% (for individuals in the 10% or 15% tax bracket) applies. However, long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are included when you determine your taxable income under the AMT system. That means large capital gains and qualifying dividends can push you into the phaseout range for AMT exemptions and can indirectly increase AMT exposure.

Note:  When it comes to the phaseout of AMT exemption amounts, a special calculation applies to individuals who are married filing separately. These individuals have to add an additional amount to their AMTI before calculating the exemption phaseout.

AMT rates

Under the AMT, the first $187,800 (for 2017) of your taxable income is taxed at a rate of 26%. If your filing status is married filing separately, the 26% rate applies to your first $93,900 (for 2017) of taxable income. Taxable income above these thresholds is taxed at a flat rate of 28%.


The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the state(s) of AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, VI, VA, WA, WV, WI and WY. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside the specific states referenced.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020.