On taxes, be careful what you wish for
Something is wrong with how little we tax the richest | Column, June 14
Judging from the letters to the editor that I read, many people have a distorted view of net worth versus income. If your house increases in value, which is very likely in the current real estate market, do you pay income tax on the increased value? If your 401(k) or IRA is structured for growth and you realize some very good gains, do you pay income tax on those gains before you withdraw the funds? No. Only when you sell your home or take the gains in actual cash are you liable and obligated to pay those taxes, according to the current laws.
Many, if not most, Americans invest in themselves via property and retirement accounts. These are the two most popular ways of building wealth. After a lifetime of building net worth, do we pay our fair share when we actually take the money? You bet we do. Billionaires do the same, but on a much grander scale.
If our dear elected leaders ever decide to tax wealth, we are all doomed. No more retirement accounts, no more stock market, no more home ownership; the government would be there to strip away any gains you might accrue each and every year under the guise of fairness. Before you light up the torches and storm the mansions of the uber rich, beware you just might be burning your house down.
Steve Thomas, Tarpon Springs
Save USF’s preserve
Hiking USF preserve shows need to save it | Column, May 24
The Board of Directors of the Tampa Bay Conservancy wishes to express our strong support for the permanent protection of the University of South Florida Forest Preserve. This property has received significant attention recently, resulting from the university’s exploration of potential future development of the 769 acres. The Tampa Bay Conservancy considers this property a critical link in the wildlife and natural area corridors of northeast Hillsborough County. The preserve provides a natural connection to Lettuce Lake Park through its common frontage on the Hillsborough River. That linear frontage also provides valuable natural shoreline, including large areas of floodplain that filter water for areas downstream. Because of the ecological, historical and research value, we are deeply concerned that the university recently elected to entertain development ideas for the property. There are many developed properties surrounding USF but only one Forest Preserve, an irreplaceable and critically important ecological resource for past, present and future students, alumni and the greater Tampa Bay community. The Tampa Bay Conservancy is a land conservation organization devoted to protecting the natural, agricultural and scenic heritage of the greater Tampa Bay region. As such, we strongly advocate for the protection of this property through a conservation easement, precluding future development, but allowing for continued research, educational and recreational use.
Ethel Hammer, Odessa
The writer is president of the Tampa Bay Conservancy.
We need the Times
The Times tallies its 13th Pulitzer | June 13
Outstanding work, Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi! This type of professional talent is why I subscribe to the Tampa Bay Times. The tenacious, dedicated, exhaustive work involved in these investigative reporting projects is so needed. How else would we ever learn the scope of these issues impacting us here in the Tampa Bay region?
Kathy Houck, New Port Richey
Tax more fairly
Outrage over billionaires’ tax returns ignores basic facts | Column, June 13
Somewhere between the two extremes of paying no taxes and confiscating assets is a solution to unjust taxation. Our current tax code is much like gerrymandering. It carves out loopholes and exceptions that favor one group only, in this case the rich. Wealthy people live lavish lifestyles based on realized gains, wages, and dividends. At the very least, that income should be fully taxed. Since borrowing against their investments “portfolio loans” is a common way to obtain funds without incurring taxes by selling stocks, let’s legislate a tax on that income. And 1% on their entire portfolio, above a certain dollar amount, each year would not be unreasonable. If I sell a property and hold the mortgage, I’m still liable for the entire gain (not just the cash down payment) in the year of the sale, realized or not. If I were wealthy, there would, no doubt, be numerous ways to avoid this tax. Wealth detached from the civic responsibility to contribute is obscene. Correction in our tax code is long overdue.
Diane Love, St. Petersburg
Remember Trump’s deficits?
I’d like to know where Sen. Rick Scott was when then-President Donald Trump was doing all the spending during his term. I don’t remember hearing a peep out of him then.
Rick Cortese, Tampa
Selling? Easy. Fixing? Uh-oh. | June 14
I would like to add a tip to Susan Taylor Martin’s informative article on home renovations: Have your general contractor obtain all required permits, especially if renovations include electric, plumbing, and window replacements.A respectable, licensed, and insured contractor should have no problem getting a permit. If they refuse, hire somebody else. And while you are at it, have your contractor endorse their general liability and worker’s compensation insurance policies to you for the duration of the home remodeling process.
Lambros Papaeconomou, Tampa