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Letter to the Editor: Tax story had misleading data

Friday, August 20, 2004

To the editor:

The Associated Press article on Census Bureau data ("Figures show income gap increasing") does not pass muster as journalism. Propaganda would be a more accurate description. Income figures reported by the Census Bureau are before taxes. Anybody who has ever tried to budget his income knows you have to use take-home pay, not gross income figures.

The lowest 20 percent of U.S. taxpayers have gone from providing over 2 percent of all federal income taxes in 1977 to less than 1 percent in 1999, while the top 20 percent has gone from providing 59 percent in 1977 to 65 percent in 1999. Actual disposable income figures would probably give a very different picture.

This promotion of the idea of two Americas is a disservice to your readers. Like it or not, we are in this together. If the top 5 percent of taxpayers are taxed out of existence or driven out of the country, the rest of us will have to pick up a 50 percent tax increase to make up the difference. Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

JOHN FOLWELL, Cape Girardeau