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How the Tax Package Affects the Elderly

March 07, 1993

The Times very clearly illustrated the impact of President Clinton's economic package on individuals in the chart headlined "How the Clinton Tax Package Affects Americans" (Feb. 19).

What is surprising is the apparent absence of protest from those retirees designated as "rich" or "affluent"--more than $32,000 in adjusted gross income--by the Administration and the media.

The widow with $50,000 in adjusted gross income in the example given will incur a tax increase equal to 2.8% of her annual income. This percentage is several times more than that which will be absorbed by the $55,000 family, the $75,000 family and even the $200,000 family. With only $13,000 in Social Security benefits, the widow's case is a mild one compared to a couple with the same income and $19,000 in benefits. In their case, the percentage of earnings taxed would be considerably greater.

It should be noted that in arriving at the adjusted gross income, which is the determining factor as to whether the retiree pays taxes on Social Security benefits, "tax-free income" (such as that from municipal bonds) is included, while that same factor has no effect on computing taxes for other taxpayers.

How can anyone rationalize classifying a retired elderly taxpayer by a different standard than that used for the rest of the population? Do retirees not also have rent and house payments? Do they not also purchase gasoline, heating and cooking fuel, food and clothing? And do they have any prospects for pay increases, promotions, better jobs or extra jobs to pay this extra burden? No way.

There can be no doubt that an economic package such as this is sorely needed. Nevertheless, one would hope that when the Clinton package comes before Congress, that august body will employ the necessary decency and fairness to remove at least this one inequity from whatever bill they may pass.

ROBERT M. BRENNAN

Murrieta, Calif.

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