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Letters to the editor

November 25, 2003

Tax law hurts seniors


To the editor:

Current Maryland income-tax law unfairly penalizes taxpayers who are 65 or over. They are allowed a lesser tax exemption than someone who claims a non-spouse dependent of that age. A taxpayer aged 65 can claim only the basic exemption of $2,400 plus an additional exemption of $1,000 because of age, or a total of $3,400.

For those at least 65 (other than a spouse) who is taken as the dependent of a taxpayer, however, the allowable exemption is doubled to $4,800. In short, the aged taxpayer is subject to state and local taxes on an additional $1,400 at a combined rate of about 7.7 percent.

In most jurisdictions in Maryland, this disparity in exempt amounts means about $110 more in state and local taxes each year. This inequitable tax liability doubles, of course, for a taxpaying couple, both of whom are 65 and allowed exemptions of $6,800 in comparison to a taxpayer who claims two dependents at 65 and is accorded $9,600 in exemptions.

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Logic and simple fairness demand that the amount of a tax exemption based solely on a person's age should be the same whether the 65-year-old is the taxpayer or the dependent of another taxpayer. Certainly aged taxpayers should be allowed the same tax exemption for a spouse for whose expenses they may be held legally responsible as is allowed to someone who claims a non-spouse dependent who is 65. An aged taxpayer's marital status should not, in and of itself, cause greater tax liability.

The higher costs for medical and drug expenses commonly incurred by many seniors are no less for those paying their own taxes. In fact, the taxpayer is less likely to meet the income requirements for federal or state assistance in meeting these costs.

The 195,000 taxpayers 65 or over in Maryland are liable for more than $21 million in state and local taxes for 2003 that are not asked of those claiming a 65-year-old dependent other than a spouse. This $21 million exceeds the amount that Maryland budgeted for senior programs for 2003. In effect, one group of seniors is subsidizing, in full, all of the state's senior programs.

Legislation will be introduced in the 2004 General Assembly session to equalize the personal tax exemption for all Maryland residents who are aged 65. I encourage all Marylanders to ask their state legislators to support these bills and restore an element of equity to Maryland's tax policy affecting seniors.

Shirley Aurand
Smithsburg




82nd flies high


To the editor:

The 82nd Airborne Division Association has made great strides in expansion and service to our country. Our division still serves America after being formed 61 years ago. The most decorated division in World War II is now fighting in Afghanistan.

The 82nd Airborne Division Association is more than 60 years old and has increased its membership to more than 27,000.

This includes veterans from Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany of World War II and Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are definitely America's "Guard of Honor" as stated by Gen. George Patton in Berlin in 1945.

Veterans from all airborne units will attend, including troopers from the 11th, 13th, 17th, 82nd, 101st and today's Special Forces. We have 96 chapters scattered across this country which hold regular meetings, picnics, dinner and dances, mini-reunions and march in local parades with their Color Guards and have school programs about World War II.

Our 58th Annual National Convention will be Reno, Nev. in August, 2004. Also next year we will have many mini-reunions in Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Arizona and Washington, D.C.

Once airborne - always airborne.

This motto still applies after 60 years. Airborne is the only requirement to join.

For complete details on reunions and material for membership, write Airborne 2004, 5459 Northcutt Pl., Dayton, OH 45414, call 1-937-898-5977, or send e-mail to srgabn@aol.com.

Shirley Gossett (World War II)
National Membership Chairman
Dayton, Ohio

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