Form 6251 - Alternative Minimum Tax


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Understanding Form 6251

6251 Tax Form is a document filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that calculates the amount of Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) that a taxpayer may owe. It is designed to prevent high-income individuals from using legal deductions and credits to reduce or eliminate their federal tax liability significantly. The AMT operates parallel to the regular income tax and imposes a minimum tax rate to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.

Who Should File Form 6251 Alternative Minimum Tax

Form 6251 is not for everyone. It primarily affects high-income taxpayers, specifically those who have a multitude of tax preference items. Tax preference items could include things like certain mortgage interest, high state, and local taxes, a large number of dependents, or substantial investment income.

If you think you might fall into the AMT net, it's worth a quick consultation with a tax professional to help understand your obligations.

How To Fill Out Federal Form 6251

Form 6251 screenshot

Completing Form 6251 involves calculating your alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI), then subtracting your AMT exemption amount. If what's left is more than the exemption, you may owe the AMT.

Filling out federal Form 6251 involves a series of steps:

  1. Start by calculating your taxable income normally, using the regular tax rules.
  2. Then adjust your income for AMT preferences and adjustments. The IRS provides a list of these, and they can include items like private activity bond interest, passive activity adjustments, and more.
  3. Subtract the AMT exemption amount from your AMTI. The exemption amount varies based on your filing status and income.
  4. Apply the AMT rates to the amount above the exemption to calculate your tentative minimum tax.
  5. Finally, compare your tentative minimum tax to your regular tax liability. If the former is higher, you owe the AMT.


The Alternative Minimum Tax was designed to ensure that high-income taxpayers pay at least a minimum amount of tax and do not excessively benefit from legal deductions and credits. If you fall into the AMT zone, form 6251 is the document you will use to calculate your AMT liability.

While it may seem overwhelming, understanding the 6251 IRS form doesn't have to be daunting. Armed with the right information and the right guidance, you can confidently navigate the terrain of the Alternative Minimum Tax. Always remember to consult a tax professional if you're unsure about your tax obligations.

Fillable online Form 6251 - Alternative Minimum Tax
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