Washington - Individual taxpayers reported earning almost $47 billion of tax-exempt interest in 1992 - 8.4% more than in 1991, according to the IRS' preliminary data from 1992 income tax returns.

The figures, which appear in the Internal Revenue Service's recently-released Statistics of Income Bulletin, Spring 1994, show that taxpayers reported $46.74 billion in tax-exempt interest for 1992, compared with $43.10 billion for 1991.

The total amount of alternative minimum tax paid by taxpayers, however, dropped to about $1.1 billion in 1992, compared to $1.2 billion in 1991.

The alternative minimum tax, which is designed to ensure that taxpayers are not able to eliminate their tax liability with tax breaks, is computed in part by taking tax-exempt interest from private-activity bonds into account.

The IRS did not specify the degree to which tax-exempt interest from private-activity bonds contributed to the alternative minimum tax payments. Private activity bond interest is one of several so-called preference items that taxpayers must take into account in determining their alternative minimum tax liability.

The preliminary tax return figures for 1992 were released only a few weeks after the IRS quietly published final data for 1991.

The final 1991 tax return statistics were released in a publication called "Individual Income Tax Returns 1991," which was issued in March, IRS officials said.

That is a departure for the IRS. The agency normally publishes tax return figures in the statistics of income bulletins. IRS officials could not explain the change in procedure.

The preliminary 1992 data in the recently released statistics of income bulletin shows that the total number of tax returns dropped 0.9% in 1992 to 113,752,244 from 114,730,123 in 1991.

The number of taxpayer returns reporting tax-exempt interest, however, rose 8.8$ to 4,493,201 in 1992 from 4,128,715 in 1991.

The biggest increase in tax-exempt interest earnings occured among taxpayers with gross adjusted incomes of $50,000 to $100,000. That group showed an increase of 19.8% in tax-exempt interest to $11.58 billion in 1992 from $9.67 billion in 1991.

The next largest increase in tax-exempt interest earnings was for taxpayers with gross adjusted income of less than $50,000. That group showed a 13.1% gain to $12.09 billion in 1992 from $10.69 billion in 1991.

The smallest increase was reported by taxpayers with adjusted incomes of $100,000 or more. They showed an increase of only 1.2% to $22.36 billion in tax-exempt interest earnings in 1992 compared to 22.09 billion in 1991.

The total number of taxpayers whose returns showed payments of alternative minimum tax rose 12.2% to 273,396 in 1992 from 245,672 in 1991. But the amount of tax paid was reduced for taxpayers in all adjusted gross income categories.

Tax-Exempt Interest and AMT Reported

By Individual Taxpayers in 1992 Total Number of Returns Final 1992 Preliminary 1992 Percentage change

No adjustedgross incom 926,000 937,147 1.2

Less than $50,000 95,397,955 93,236,436 -2.3

$50,000 to$100,000 14,961,834 15,814,183 5.7

$100,000 ormore 3,444,313 3,764,449 9.3Total 114,730,123 113,752,244 -0.9 Number of Returns reporting Tax-Exempt Interest Final 1991 Preliminary 1992 Percentage change

No adjustedgross income 41,544 38,797 -6.6

Less than$50,000 1,982,881 2,091,666 5.5

$50,000 to$100,000 1,234,393 1,381,398 11.9

$100,000 ormore 869,897 981,338 12.8Total 4,128,715 4,493,201 8.8 Amount of Tax-Exempt Interest Reported* Final 1991 Preliminary 1992 Percentage change

No adjustedgross income $652,400 $706,226 8.3

Less than$50,000 $10,687,589 $12,087,932 13.1

$50,000 to$100,000 $9,672,259 $11,584,218 19.8

$100,000 ormore 22,089,292 $22,358,927 1.2Total $43,101,537 $46,737,298 8.4 Number of Returns Reporting AMT Final 1991 Preliminary 1992 Percentage Change

No adjustedgross income 4,261 4,289 0.7

Less than$50,000 44,534 45,933 3.1

$50,000 to$100,000 75,738 90,255 19.2

$100,000 ormore 119,139 132,396 11.6Total 243,672 273,396 12.2 Amount of AMT Reported * Final 1991 Preliminary 1992 Percentage change

No adjustedgross income $53,720 $40,095 -25.4

Less than$50,000 $53,295 $41,488 -22.2

$50,000 to$100,000 $172,232 $159,226 -7.6

$100,000 ormore $934,178 $897,428 -3.9Total $1,213,426 $1,138,238 -6.2

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