May 19, 2013

Letters to the editor: Readers praise, pan tax plan

I think the bipartisan group's plan is a great place to start. However, I'd suggest four changes:

  •  Not tax those goods truly essential to life: (a) heating fuel; (b) basic foods, including meats, vegetables, fruits, non-dessert dairy products and grains, including non-dessert baked goods and grain products; and (c) medical/dental care, including prescription medicines, annual physicals, dental cleanings twice a year and non-optional doctor/dentist and hospital visits.
  • Keep most of the income-tax changes suggested in the plan but have a two-tiered income-tax system, with those whose household income is $250,000 or greater paying 6 percent and those whose household income is below $250,000 paying the 4 percent suggested. This still lowers the tax rate for all and would help cover the revenue lost by not taxing essential goods.
  • Keep, or even return to pre-2011 levels, the estate tax, perhaps exempting only the assessed value of a family business.
  •  Lower corporate tax rates only for those corporations headquartered in Maine.

Pamela B. Blake

My principal response to the debate in the May 12 Maine Sunday Telegram ("Two sides of reforming Maine taxes") was disappointment.

I was hoping to see a presentation of substantive data supporting the opposing views. What we got instead was a bunch of "spin," feel-good selling points with little monetary backup.

Albert DiMillo's Con presentation was a tad better than the Pro presentation, but neither side gave the kind of in-depth data needed to allow an intelligent understanding of the issues.

Or maybe that's what they want?

Steve Collins

I have read articles and letters and opinions on the proposed tax overhaul designed by the Gang of 11. I do not pretend to be able to discuss most of the proposals.

I am retired, my income is fixed. I do not file income taxes. But I do pay excise taxes, licensing fees, tolls, gasoline tax and, of course, sales tax.

I meet often with others like myself who live on fixed incomes. Our options are limited.

When I was working, coffee break talk would often be centered on new stores, great sales and good restaurants. Now the conversations are about Senior Day at Goodwill and new secondhand shops. New clothes are rare.

An estimated 200,000 Mainers don't have access to adequate food. What does that say to us? Many seniors are in that group, and many more are close to the line. A sales tax on food will push more people into that group.

I have heard the argument that there will be a potential rebate if you file taxes at the end of the year. Really? Do you honestly think that is going to help?

Most of us who live from paycheck to paycheck are running low by the third week of the month. A few dollars in sales tax paid on food will make a difference as the month goes on.

I cannot see how this can be of benefit to the state. It will just force seniors and others to cut back or force more people over the state line into New Hampshire or to Massachusetts. Neither charge sales tax on food or clothing.

I agree much needs to be done to fix our budget needs. A fair tax system just doesn't attack those least able to pay.

And let's not even talk about a sales tax on heating oil!

Ellen Harris-Howard

When members of the Legislature talk of tax reform, it usually means a redistribution for higher and new taxes. For example, Social Security benefits now exempt, will be taxed under a recent tax reform plan being presented in Augusta.

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