An unfair tax on federal workersAs Marylanders in the...

the Forum

November 08, 1990

An unfair tax on federal workers

As Marylanders in the reserves and on active duty in Saudi Arabia prepare for war, there is a battle to win for them in Annapolis. The battle at home involves an adversary almost as implacable as Saddam Hussein the income tax. Maryland state income tax on federal employees overseas both military and civilian unfairly denies them a break given to state employees and those in private industry.

State and private sector employees overseas can earn up to $70,000 and pay no state income tax. They are also exempt from federal income tax. All told they can avoid more than $5,000 in taxes to Maryland and almost another $20,000 to Uncle Sam.

Until recently, Marylanders in uniform were denied any semblance of fair treatment. In 1989, the House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill which granted soldiers the same exemption given to state employees. Unfortunately, the Senate eliminated much of the break.

Now, most first-term enlistees are exempt from state income tax. However, most career NCOs and officers receive only a partial exemption or none at all. Virtually all nurses and doctors from Bethesda Naval Hospital who recently shipped out receive none. Likewise for most fighter pilots, not to mention Marylanders who command ships and troops in the gulf. Other states, such as Illinois and Pennsylvania grant full exemption. Why not Maryland?

Should we penalize those willing to sacrifice their lives overseas for the privilege of calling themselves Marylanders? Maryland does not charge state and oil company employees for this privilege. Federal employees deserve equal treatment.

Steve Lynch

The writer is director of the Association of Marylanders ServingOutside the State, Inc.

Third World U.S.

While Americans are celebrating the victory of capitalism, our society looks increasingly like a part of the Third World. Our infant mortality rate has risen and our adult literacy rate has fallen. This is true at the national and the state level, and whether we compare the U.S. to itself 10 years ago or to other developed nations. It should not be surprising that fewer people now own more of America's wealth than a decade ago.

Not only have we begun to look like a Third World country, but our national and state governments have begun to behave like them in their regressive taxing policies and their preference for prestige project expenditures over infrastructure, education or social welfare expenditures. The collapsing of the federal income tax brackets and increased reliance on taxes on gasoline, cigarettes and liquor have made federal taxes far more regressive.

The states in turn have enacted new, more regressive taxes as a way to augment their income without offending wealthier citizens. Many states, like Maryland, are seeking to cap or decrease property taxes, while increasing sales taxes or creating state lotteries which sap the earnings of the urban poor.

Meanwhile our president calls for a decrease in the capital gains tax and the governor pushes ahead on projects like light rail and the Camden Yards stadium. One already feels like a Third World native.

Sabrina Willis

Baltimore

Why they do it

Columnist Cal Thomas, speaking at a dinner here for the Greater Baltimore Crisis Pregnancy Center Oct. 25, said that giving teens birth control was like providing a police escort for bank robbers.

Your editorial, "Tackling teen pregnancy," which appeared the same night, suggested that the underlying problem is ignorance of birth control or inability to get and use it. It would be wonderful if teaching adolescents to "just say no" were enough.

I'm a volunteer counselor in training in the pregnancy center. If you want to know what is motivating teens, the real reason is because sex, especially without birth control, is one of the few authentic experiences in which the consequences are not denied them, both good and ill. They can't find authenticity or right judgment anywhere else in their society.

Sue Priest

Baltimore

Apology is due

As a newspaper reporter myself, I cannot believe The Evening Sun ran in some of its editions of Oct. 31 a photo of Derrick White's body in a coffin with his mother standing beside him. People don't need to see a photo of someone in a coffin to understand he is dead. What point were you attempting to make in running this hurtful, graphic photo? You owe an apology to Derrick White's family and friends as well as your readers.

Karen Gatzke

Westminster

Tough love

Jim Fain's column, "Israel needs tough love from U.S." (Oct. 19), is a perfect example of promoting a lie by giving it a little bit of truth ` the lie being that an exchange of territory between Israel and its Arab enemies can bring peace to the region.

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