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letters | tax reform on the table

Poor could bear brunt of proposed changes

I enjoy John E. Sununu’s metaphor for the nerve to tackle tax reform — skiing down Tuckerman Ravine (“Tax reform: Ski it if you dare,” Op-ed, March 3). I also applaud Representative David Camp for putting specific proposals on the table. As an experienced tax preparer, I support simplicity. However, Camp proposes to add even more phase-outs and limits to tax savings, the most complex elements of the tax code. If one accepts that reductions in benefits are the same as a tax, then his proposal is worrisome.

Poor people pay much higher marginal rates than the rich once benefit caps and phase-outs are considered. Caps and phase-outs create nearly insurmountable barriers to upward mobility. I am a so-called compassionate conservative, but I do not want to see the social safety net frayed.

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I’d like to see personal exemptions and the standard deduction replaced with $4,368 of food stamps for each citizen. In the 10 percent tax bracket, that’s equivalent to a $43,680 deduction, and in the 40 percent bracket, a $10,920 deduction.

A so-called citizens’ dividend, combined with a flat tax, would be progressive, simple to administer, reward work, and protect the unlucky. Now that’s a pro-growth tax code.

William E. Carlson


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