1. Archive

Overtime pay doesn't affect your tax rate

Do you have a question about the news? Then send a letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Q


A on the News, Box 4689, Atlanta, GA 30302. The answer may be published in this weekly column.

Q: What is the rationale behind taxing overtime pay at a higher rate than regular pay?

A: It's not taxed at a higher rate. There's no differentiation between 40 hours of work and 60 hours of work so far as the tax rate is concerned, said IRS spokesman Eric Roberts. If your paycheck reflecting the overtime is not as great as what you expected, it's because your employer has adjusted the withholding portion. Unless you move into a higher tax bracket, you'll get it back.

Q: What were the results of the recent election in Canada?

A: Mike Harris led Ontario's Conservative Party _ the Tories, nicknamed the "New Blue Machine" _ to a landslide victory in the provincial election June 8, taking 82 seats in the 130-seat Legislature. Bob Rae and his governing New Democrats were reduced to 17 seats, their worst showing since the 1960s. Liberals, led by Lyn McLeod, remain the official opposition, winning 30 seats. Harris indicated that the Legislature, which hasn't met since December, will be recalled this summer.

Q: How many people have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor?

A: Before we get into numbers, let's clarify the name. It is the Medal of Honor. The word "Congressional" is often added because the holder of the medal _ although chosen for it by peers and superior officers _ is nominally given it by writ of Congress. Adding to the name confusion is the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which was chartered by Congress.

The number of medals awarded differs from the number of recipients, because some people have received more than one. Only one woman _ Mary Walker, a civilian doctor _ was awarded a Medal of Honor. That was for tending soldiers and civilians in the Civil War.

The Congressional Medal of Honor: The Names, The Deeds, compiled by Sharp & Dunnigan Publications with the cooperation of the Pentagon, lists 3,412 recipients from the Civil War through Vietnam. The book includes 17 recipients made by special legislation. Another book, Above and Beyond, A History of the Medal of Honor from the Civil War to Vietnam, produced in cooperation with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, lists 3,393 men and one woman as having been awarded the medal through the Vietnam War. None were awarded in the Persian Gulf War; two were awarded posthumously for heroism in Somalia.

Q: Remember Esperanto, which was supposed to be an easy-to-learn new language? Can you tell me about it?

A: It was invented in the late 1800s by Ludwik Zamenhof, a Polish physician and linguist. The name comes from Doktoro Esperanto, the pseudonym Zamenhof used in Lingvo Internacia, a book about the language. Esperanto is one of a number of invented languages intended to provide a universal means of communication. None has caught on to any great extent for a host of reasons, including the reluctance of most people to give up their native language in favor of something abstract. Sample: Inteligenta persono lernas la lingvon Esperanto rapide kaj facile.("Intelligent people learn Esperanto rapidly and easily.").

Q: Mickey Mantle's liver transplant makes me wonder about other major organ transplants. When were the first ones performed? Is there a way to monitor their success? Are they common?

A: Organ transplantation has been one of the success stories of surgery over the past 30 years. In the United States, the first successful kidney transplant _ it also was the world's first _ was in 1954. Other milestones in such surgery in the United States and Canada included the first pancreas transplant in 1966; liver, 1967; heart, 1968; heart-lung, 1981; single lung, 1983; double lung, 1986; living-related liver (as opposed to cadaver donor), 1989; and living- related lung, 1990.

The world's first heart transplant was performed in 1967 in South Africa by a team led by surgeon Christiaan Barnard. There's no guarantee of success, but 70 percent of patients with heart and kidney transplants, and 50 percent with liver transplants, survive for at least two years, according to the World Book Medical Encyclopedia. The number of transplants worldwide isn't known, but is believed to be in excess of 100,000 kidneys, 30,000 each of livers and hearts, and several thousand each of lungs and pancreases, according to the 1995 Medical and Health Annual of Encyclopedia Britannica. Most are performed in North America, Europe and Australasia. The United Network for Organ Sharing in Richmond, Va., keeps lists of patients who are waiting for an organ transplant. Information: (804) 330-8500.

Q: For a person convicted in a carjacking case, what is the ultimate penalty possible?

A: When the Federal Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992 became law, carjacking was punishable by life in prison. Two years later, the death penalty was added. John Russell, a Justice Department spokesman, said about 200 accused carjackers have been prosecuted, but none has received the death penalty.

Q: In the movie Braveheart, one of the characters uses the "f" word. Was it around back then, or was it a liberty that Hollywood took?

A: It appears to be the latter. Braveheart is a 13th-century adventure set in Scotland. According to The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, the "f" word came into English in the late 15th century. Its first recorded use was in 1503; it was first recorded in an English dictionary in John Florio's A War of Words in 1598.

Q: Years ago, I memorized the height of Mount Everest at 29,002 feet. A recent newspaper article said Everest is somewhat higher. Can mountains grow?

A: It's not a physical manifestation, such as an upheaval of the Earth's surface, pushing a mountain higher; the change occurred because the means of measurement has improved. In 1849-50, the Survey Department of the government of India, using theodolite readings, placed Everest's height at 29,002 feet. Recent satellite measurements showed it to be 29,029 feet high. Either way, it's the Earth's highest mountain.

_ Cox News Service