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LETTER: Following up on letters duel

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By Robert E. Gallegos

On Feb. 12, The Optic published my letter to the editor regarding the unfairness of the federal tax code in taxing Married Joint Filers as opposed to Single Filers, especially in the taxing of Social Security benefits. I have been trying to get our congressional delegation to do something about this inequity for the last 15 years. Now that same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships are in the news, I had more of an argument to rectify the problem that punishes Married Joint Filers when taxing Social Security benefits.

In the Feb. 20 issue of the Optic, a letter from Judith Bennett of Rociada was published in which she wrote, more or less, that I did not know what I was talking about and that my wife and I could file as “single” taxpayers to solve my problem.

I contacted Mr. McDonald at the Optic to see if I could get Mrs. Bennett’s phone number. He advised me that he could not give her number, but that he would call Mrs. Bennett to see if she would call me, since I wanted to speak with her.

Mrs. Bennett called me a few minutes later. She told me that she had worked as a tax preparer for what I consider the largest tax preparation firm in the nation, and I informed her that I had been a tax preparer, a sideline business, for 43 years and that I could not derive any benefits by filing as “married filing separate returns.” Just to prove my point, I had prepared the Social Security work sheets for “Married Filing Separate Returns” separating my wife’s and my income and I came up with combined total of $20,511 in taxable Social Security benefits, the exact amount on my joint return, and $8,161 on combined “single returns,” a difference of $12,350. I completed these worksheets while I waited for Mrs. Bennett’s call.

We had a pleasant conversation and Mrs. Bennett assured me that she would write a letter or apology after she verified if I was correct. To date, I have not seen a letter from Mrs. Bennett in the Optic. This incident could have been very harmful to me if I was till in the tax preparation business. I am still a registered preparer and I received some good-natured kidding from some of my friends. It is funny that several of the comments started with he statement, “I bet the letter came from a transplant. ...”

Robert E. Gallegos

Las Vegas