Your recent editorial on Maryland's estate tax linked the discussion about increasing the minimum wage to the issue of estate and inheritance taxes ("Settling the estate tax," Jan. 16).

I support both an increase in the minimum wage and a decrease in the estate tax for the same underlying reasons. I believe in the value of people being self-sustaining and not being overly dependent on the government, although obviously this is not possible for all.

An increase in the minimum wage will reduce the number of people dependent on government support. People who save and accumulate assets to provide for themselves are not looking to the government to pay for their care toward the end of life, which in many instances is substantial.

Passing assets to children and grandchildren is a means of helping members of your family become self-sufficient. As government and businesses reduce pensions and the future of Social Security is clouded, people will need to have substantial savings to maintain a middle-class standard of living in their retirement years.

Given low interest rates, there is a very modest return on savings in our current times. I believe in basic fairness. An increase in the minimum wage is justified in order to take into account the impact of inflation on working people.

How many decades has the level for imposing a tax upon estates been set at $1 millions? Basic fairness requires an adjustment of this figure.

Finally, raising the amount would keep more relatively successful Marylanders living in the state so they can give and receive the support of their family and maintain ties to their communities, including support of local charities and organizations.

Any earnings accrued from their savings are taxed and contribute to the general welfare. This is lost to the state when a people of means leave Maryland. A senior citizen should not be asked to choose between residing near their roots and having to pay an onerous tax which is imposed on only a small percentage of the state's population.

Supporting the government is a responsibility shared by all; imposing a tax of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a limited few who do not shelter their assets from taxation is not consistent with the value of basic fairness and, sadly, your editorial does not address any of these issues.

Walter Dent, Kingsville

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