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Thank you Kaye for your reply, it’s appreciated.
What you are describing makes complete sense to me but, if I’m not mistaken, it’s still different than my issue.
In my case, had I not sold ISO stocks in year 1 like you are suggesting, the AMT would have still been significantly below the regular income tax at year 1 (thanks to the more generous limits introduced in 2018), so I wouldn’t have had to pay AMT and would have still been able to recoup some of the AMT credits generated at year 0.
The only scenario in which I could have possibly owed AMT at year 1 is if, completely hypothetically, I had sold the same amount of shares without having a different adjusted cost basis for AMT purposes, which is exactly the scenario that turns out when calculating form 8801 at year 2. While this hypothetical scenario could have happen if I, for example, took advantage of early exercise, it’s not something that was ever feasible in my situation, so that’s what is throwing me off, I don’t understand why I have to have the AMT credit eaten by a scenario from which I definitely didn’t benefit at year 1 (and again, the proof that I didn’t benefit is the fact that had I not sold those shares, I still wouldn’t have owed any AMT).