House Passage of Tax Bill

The tax revision bill passed by the House of Representatives would adversely affect many of this nation's 30 million retirees over the age of 65.

The House-approved bill makes a major change in how this nation's elderly are treated in calculating their income tax. For years seniors over the age of 65 were allowed a double personal exemption, but this is eliminated in the bill. The double personal exemption (triple if also legally blind) was offered in recognition of the fact that retirees were no longer engaged in employment that would allow them to adjust their income and reserves to compensate for changes in the economy and the purchasing power of the dollar.

If the charts published in The Times had also shown what the effect of the proposed law would have been on senior citizens earning anywhere from $10,000 and $40,000 they would have shown that the tax burden on seniors was increased in relation to the tax burden on those with a similar income who are still working.

In some cases it might just work out that some of this country's seniors would be paying more under the new set-up than they would under the present tax law where they would be entitled to a personal exemption of $2,160 instead of $2,000 under the new bill and where the bottom tax bracket is now 11% instead of the 15% floor in the new bill.

Approximately one-third of those on Social Security are living below the poverty line, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, and another significant number barely escape being included in that category. If the last cost-of-living adjustment had been withheld, as was being urged by the Senate leadership, an additional 500,000 pensioners would have been added to those living below the poverty level.

The silence that has surrounded the elimination of the double personal exemption for seniors indicates that those who are rewriting our tax laws do not wish to have the information made available to the senior community lest it become the subject for a public outcry similar to that which greeted their suggestion to eliminate the cost-of-living adjustment.

Surely Congress and the Reagan Administration can find other ways of revising our tax laws than to penalize those who have ended their wage-earning days and who must exist on an inadequate Social Security pension, a shrinking Medicare system and whatever savings they were able to accumulate during their lower paying working days.


Santa Monica

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