Tax Tip: Your Taxes May Be Higher than You Think

iStock/ThinkstockThis tax season, about four million people will pay what's called an alternative minimum income tax.

"It's essentially designed for people who are taking advantage of a great many tax benefits -- maybe deductions and credits, a special treatment of income," explains Internal Revenue Service spokesperson Eric Smith.

He says the tax is designed to make sure everybody pays at least some tax.

"If you have large amounts of, for example, state and local taxes that you're deducting, that's one situation that can trigger the alternative minimum tax for some people. But everybody's situation is different," Smith says.

Do your taxes the regular way and then the alternative way, and pay whichever amount is higher.

There are exceptions: It's currently around $83,000 for a married couple and about $53,000 for a single person. Knowing which tax to pay can be complicated, Smith says.

"If you're using tax preparation software, it generally will calculate that for you or determine that for you, and give you some pointers on how to do that correctly," he says.

Only about 2 percent of all taxpayers are stuck with the alternative minimum income tax, but that somebody could be you so make sure to do the math. And remember: Tax Day is April 18.

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