Adding and dividing up tax figures

Is the United States poor, unable to meet expenses? Recent figures show private earnings and spending increasing. Then why must our government pile debts upon our children, and curtail and eliminate many beneficial programs? Surely a simple remedy is at hand. Prominent economists advocate a tax increase. This is good arithmetic, not politics. It makes sense. The US is not poor. Anguish in Washington concerning the deficit is a direct result of tax cutting. Norman A. Walter, Red House, W.Va.

David Purcell's recent excellent article on the plight of private charities under the new tax plan presented by Secretary Regan paints a clear picture of the problems ahead from the point of view of the charities [``Gauging the effect of new -- and proposed -- tax policies,'' Dec. 28]. However, it does not define precisely the impact on the individual of the revised rules for charitable deductions.

The fact is that higher standard deductions will eliminate the privilege of many middle-income taxpayers to itemize deductions, and a minimum of 2 percent of gross income for a deduction to qualify will eliminate the incentive to make contributions of less than several hundred dollars. Thus the incentive to contribute will be removed from middle-income taxpayers, i.e. those with incomes of between $25,000 and $50,000, while the incentive remains for the rich. A person with over $50,000 in income would probably still gain by itemizing deductions and would be able to concentrate his giving in $1,000-plus bundles. His middle-income counterpart will be able to do neither.

There remains, however, a contradiction at the core of the administration policy. On the one hand, the government wants private charity to take more responsibility in order to fill gaps left by the reduction of federal support for social work; and on the other, the new tax plan makes the work of private charity that much more difficult.

Community chests, hospitals, churches, public TV and radio, colleges, and local cultural organizations cannot help but suffer if the tax incentive to give is removed from middle-class supporters. George T. Peck, Brunswick, Maine

I was pleased to see the well-reasoned statement in the Sept. 6 sports page about adopting a progressive basketball rule in the US: ``The first step to decongesting things around the basket would be adoption of the larger, fan-shaped, three-second lane used in the Olympics.'' Such a rule change demands offensive players in the low post area to possess greater all-around skills and not only enormous size to gain an advantage over the defense. An exciting man-to-man (player-to-player) defense would become even more effective, as the low post area is usually the most difficult to defend. A more ``balanced,'' wide-open, exciting style of play in the larger fan-shaped key area is a more constructive and sound change than the radical consequences of raising the basket to solve the basket area problem. Terry Wm. Van Allen, Portland, Ore.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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