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Tax break or fair shake?

August 18, 2008

Re "Subprime lenders may see boon," Aug. 14

Why spin the ability to deduct losses as a "tax break"? When you make money, you pay taxes, right? So is it a tax break to be able to write off your losses against your income?

Clearly, using calendar years to determine taxable income is arbitrary. If you make $100 in one venture and lose $50 in another during the same tax year, you get to total them up and pay taxes on your $50 in income. But in California, if you make $100 in December and lose $50 in January, you're out of luck! How is that fair? It's not, of course; it's just the law.

But making it right again isn't a "break." It's just making the math work fairly across the years, so that if one's income and losses happen to fall in different tax years, one can still make it so one pays the same taxes another would have paid on the same total income. Federal rules already allow this.

I am not a subprime lender, nor do I have any ties whatsoever to the home-lending industry. I do believe, however, that in the absence of fraud or other willful misconduct, they should be able to total their incomes and losses across a reasonable range of years, as you should be able to, and pay taxes only on the total.

This is not a "break," it's just what is right and fair.

Gary C. Simons



So now Arnold wants to write checks to the loan companies losing money on the subprime mortgage crisis. This idea was brought forward by the Schwarzenegger administration at the "urging" of lenders.

Hmmm. While we're at it, let's write checks to the pizza-delivery companies to deal with the obesity problem in California. And let's write checks to the oil companies because Californians are driving less.

One question for the governor: How much does "urging" cost in Sacramento these days?

Derek Lovett


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