TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / Taxes 101 / What Is IRS Form 6251?

What Is IRS Form 6251?

Updated for Tax Year 2015


OVERVIEW

Form 6251 is used by taxpayers to calculate their AMT or to determine if they are subject to it.


The IRS imposes the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) on certain taxpayers who earn a significant amount of income, but are able to eliminate most, if not all, income from taxation using deductions and credits. Although reducing your taxable income to zero is perfectly legal, the IRS uses AMT to insure everyone pays their fair share. Many taxpayers must use Form 6251 to calculate their AMT or to determine if they are subject to it.

Determining whether to file Form 6251

The IRS does require all taxpayers to evaluate whether they are subject to AMT each tax year. However, in many cases, the amount of income you earn during the year may not even warrant a separate calculation if it’s relatively low.

To be sure, you should prepare your personal income tax return using tax preparation software, such as TurboTax. TurboTax can help you determine if you owe AMT.

Calculating alternative minimum taxable income

If you owe AMT, then the form requires you to calculate an alternative minimum taxable income. This calculation is different than the taxable income you calculate on a Form 1040. The tax calculation on Form 6251 will reduce some of the tax benefits you claim on Form 1040 to potentially increase your tax bill.

The first part of Form 6251 starts with your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) if you don’t itemize deductions; otherwise it uses your taxable income with your personal and dependent exemptions added back. To arrive at your alternative minimum taxable income, the form either eliminates or reduces some of the deductions and losses you originally claim such as your medical and dental deduction, net operating losses and investment interest expense, to name just a few.

Calculating your AMT

Once you calculate your adjusted minimum taxable income, Form 6251 allows you to claim an AMT exemption that is based on your filing status. These are different than the dependent and personal exemptions you claim on your original tax return.

For example, in 2015 the exemptions range from $56,600 for single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separately to $83,400 for joint filers. The form subtracts your exemption from adjusted minimum taxable income and calculates your AMT. In short, you must make an additional tax payment equal to the excess of AMT over the amount of tax you report on Form 1040.

Filing Form 6251

When you complete Form 6251, you must attach it to your personal tax return. However, you must also transfer the amount of AMT you are liable for to your Form 1040. Your Form 1040 has a specific line item where you can report the AMT so that your total tax is reported on the tax return.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • Filing Deadline: IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 18, 2016 (except for residents of Massachusetts or Maine, where the IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 19, 2016).
  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for efiling state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with efile and direct deposit; tax refund timeframes will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except the TurboTax Home & Business/QuickBooks Self-Employed bundle offers.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice service is available via phone for your toughest tax questions; fees may apply. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2014 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.