Garrett Gazette - January 16, 2007
On Sunday, in honor of the birth and life of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., my office participated in a celebration in Trenton, New Jersey. My office delivered the following remarks on my behalf:
"Dr. King is an essential part of the American story, but he did so much more than even the history books teach us. True, he led a civil rights movement that brought real liberty to millions of black Americans. True, he maintained a peacefulness in protest in a time of incredible violence and hate. And, true, he spoke with an eloquence that still surpasses many of the greatest orators of history.
"But, his real legacy was the strength he gave us as a people. He taught Americans, black and white, across generations and gender and faith, to believe in the words of our Founding Fathers - that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He taught us that with honesty in our beliefs and perseverance, we too could overcome the boundaries of prejudice and could make those words ring true for all.
"Dr. King and his gracious wife, Coretta, will forever hold a special place in the hearts, minds, and souls of freedom-loving people around the globe."
Member of Congress
ISSUE OF THE WEEK: CONGRESSMAN GARRETT TO REINTRODUCE AMT RELIEF BILL
In 2004, more than 1 out of every 10 tax filers in New Jersey's Fifth District were required to calculate their taxes using two different formulae - the typical tax system and the Alternative Minimum Tax system - and then were required to pay the tax liability that was highest. This makes our district the eighth most heavily impacted district in the nation.
The Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT, is a parallel tax universe that was initially established to keep high-income taxpayers from avoiding a significant portion of their tax liability. But, the arcane structure has spread into the middle class and applied to more than 4 million families in 2005. These are solidly middle-class families, such as couples that make more than $58,000 a year and itemize their deductions.
If left unaddressed by Congress, more and more taxpayers will become ensnared in the AMT. In fact, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the number of AMT returns will reach 19 million in 2006, and peak at 29 million in 2010 - that's nearly 20 percent of all tax filers.
I have been a strong proponent of efforts to reform the AMT. The average AMT taxpayer in New Jersey's Fifth District paid an additional $4,113 in taxes in 2004. The AMT so heavily affects our district for many reasons, but chief amongst them is our high state and local tax burden. In the typical tax system, taxpayers may deduct state and local taxes paid from their income taxes, but the AMT does not allow for this deduction. And, as a result, the AMT liability is higher. To remedy this, I plan to reintroduce my legislation to provide for an AMT deduction for state and local taxes later this week.
I am also circulating a letter amongst my colleagues to the Chairman and Ranking Republican of the House Ways and Means Committee urging them to bring AMT relief to the House floor as quickly as possible. I am hopeful that they will respond favorably and soon.