Our opinion: Give and take

U.S. senators who voted in favor of the tax reform bill that passed early Saturday, by a margin of just 51-49, did an enormous amount of good for many American individuals, families and businesses.

At the same time, they may have done some harm.

Analysts for Murray Energy Corp., one of the largest coal companies in the country, believe provisions of the bill could, if enacted, increase the firm’s tax bill by about $60 million a year. That could be catastrophic for the company – and many others that could be hit by the same circumstances.

As company President, Chairman and CEO Robert Murray explained, the problem is the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT, put in place many years ago, is among the most unpopular provisions of the current tax code, among both individuals and businesses.

Senate bill writers had intended to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, which approved a tax reform plan that would eliminate the AMT. But, apparently on Friday, concessions were made to some senators who had been wavering on their chamber’s version of the bill. One of those changes was to leave the AMT in place.

Senate action on Saturday is not the final word, however. Its version of the tax package must be reconciled with the House bill, before a final product can be delivered to President Donald Trump for his signature. Clearly, the AMT error should be rectified. That tax should be scuttled.

Leaving it in place could hurt Murray and other mining companies badly. It could convert a job-creation move into a job killer. That is the very last thing lawmakers and the president should allow.

Compromises may have to be made to get tax reform enacted. But making it counterproductive to some companies should not be among them.

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