The AMT Blame Game

It took all year for congressional Democrats to extend the alternative minimum tax "patch" so that middle-income taxpayers don't get whacked by a tax originally designed to target the rich. As a result, until last week, the IRS couldn't start writing the AMT formula, a task that can take up to nine weeks. Meaning: Tax refunds will be delayed.

So who's to blame? Democrats say President Bush and his administration. In a letter to Bush, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid say that the IRS was notified October 30 that Congress would most likely pass the AMT fix, though there were competing proposals before the House and Senate. Now, the Democrats say that the formula should have been designed weeks ago so that refunds wouldn't be delayed. Says a GOP strategist: "What nerve! They pass AMT relief at the last minute then send a letter to Bush asking him to get refunds out in a timely fashion."

By Paul Bedard