Closing college plan's loophole would hurt good faith...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 29, 2002

Closing college plan's loophole would hurt good faith depositors

State lawmakers went on the offensive against the Maryland College Investment Plan board, the assistant attorney general and "wealthy" taxpayers for taking advantage of a supposed loophole in the law governing the new college savings program ("Big tax break angers officials," Jan. 19).

But since the clear meaning of the wording of the law permitted the unintended result, where was the rebuke to the drafters of the law or the mea culpas from our lawyer-legislators?

All that would have been necessary was a statement in the law of the maximum permissible tax deduction to clarify exactly what tax break was intended. But now the state lawmakers are vowing to close the loophole retroactive to Jan. 1, which will punish those who in good faith made contributions of more than $2,500.

Where were all the similar threats of retroactive legislation from our federal lawmakers when it was revealed that Enron Corp. and many other Fortune 500 companies were paying no taxes at all because of loopholes in the U.S. laws?

Could it be that those loopholes were intended?

Stanley W. Krohn

Baltimore

A huge tax on imports is what economy needs

Even the president does not get the real problem with our economy ("Enron scandal leaves Bush feeling `outraged,'" Jan. 23). Tax cuts are great, but if we do not have jobs to make money in the first place, they do our economy no good.

Why is it the government can make a contractor pay employees a certain wage and guarantee them 40 hours of work a week, yet cannot enforce a trade policy that is fair to corporations in this country?

I believe that a real tax cut could be paid for by a huge tax on imports. This tax should be applied only to products coming from those countries that do not pay employees our current minimum wage.

This would ensure a fair global market and allow U.S. manufacturers to be competitive with countries such as China.

One day we will wake up and realize that we do not produce anything in the United States except food.

Buy American.

John Pauley Jr.

Baltimore

Hold the al-Qaida prisoners as POWs for a long, long time

Fine: Let's declare the al-Qaida and Taliban detainees prisoners of war ("Humanity at Camp X-ray," editorial, Jan. 22). Thus they'll be securely confined until the Taliban and al-Qaida wackos surrender and the war ends.

That would probably amount to life sentences for all of them.

J. Wistar Huey III

Ellicott City

All of us must change expectations about crabs

The negative economic impact of proposed new blue crab regulations ("Crab pickers decry rules," Jan. 18) is regrettable, but does not change the fact that this resource has been overfished and must be protected by new regulations.

Failure to enact significant protective regulations because of the economic implications would permit the continued decline of the resource, and probably the ultimate failure of related businesses anyway. Prohibiting the taking and processing of egg-bearing female crabs is a "no brainer."

One processor threatened to close his business if the proposed regulations were approved, and that is his prerogative. Small businesses everywhere periodically close because the business climate in which they operate has changed.

As the crab population has declined despite past regulations, all citizens with a stake in the resource have had to adjust their expectations. It is not likely that the resource will ever be as it was in the past.

Kenneth B. Lewis

Baltimore

The state's tax assessors don't impose property taxes

The letter "A recession is no time to raise tax assessments" (Jan. 22) misled readers on the role of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

No assessor has the statutory authority to impose property taxes on any homeowner. The assessors appraise property and notify each county of the value of that property, based primarily on previous sales of similar properties.

The value is reported to the counties. The counties determine the tax rate and the homeowners' ultimate property tax obligation; and it is the counties that derive the revenue.

William W. Saltzman

Baltimore

The writer is a former special assistant to the director of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

`Big box' stores wouldn't improve west side

The Sun's editorial "Target, Marshall's eye Howard Street" (Jan. 15) gave strong support to the exciting possibility that those retailers may locate stores in the west side of downtown Baltimore - a position we share. However, it goes on to say that "insiders fear Howard Street's preservation guidelines are too restrictive" for a standard Target store and "unless they are modified the big fish will go away" - and this is a position we do not share.

Are there west side sites for a standard 120,000-square-foot Target store with acres of parking? Probably not. However, there are plenty of opportunities for new west-side development, just as there are plenty of beautiful historic buildings ready for rehabilitation and reuse.

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