Awful forms intimidate taxpayersIf the 104th Congress...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Awful forms intimidate taxpayers

If the 104th Congress is serious about getting government off the backs of citizens and eliminating or simplifying paperwork, why, oh why, did it not begin with that monstrosity visited upon millions of U.S. citizens for innumerable years, federal income tax forms?

I just finished preparing my 1994 tax returns and find myself, as I have for some 40 years, shaking my head in disbelief and frustration that supposedly intelligent, reasonable and moral people could devise a system and forms that are so complex and incomprehensible that a person of above-average intelligence and education has great difficulty completing them.

For example: To make this task "simpler and easier," these forms inform me, I am provided by federal and state agencies with two booklets totaling some 90 pages of instructions.

I am also told that for my particular situation, the average time required to complete my return is some 18 hours.

That, of course, is assuming I don't need to complete any of the other 29 forms listed on page 35 of the federal booklet or go to the library to get any of the 22 publications also listed, all of which will make this task "simpler and easier."

In case I would need to complete all of those forms, the average time required would be an additional 38 hours. And that does not include the time required for preparing state income tax returns.

Need I go on? The system is out of control.

I dislike demonizing, but I wonder if some virus has invaded the minds of Congress, to create the laws governing taxation, and the Internal Revenue Service, to convince us that this system and these forms are "simple and easy" and even beneficial. Even worse, that virus seems to have paralyzed the minds of citizens like me who have, year after year, allowed this invasion of our time without a word of protest, perpetuating the system to the next generation.

Careful as I am, I am never entirely sure that I have filled out all the forms properly and accurately.

When I read the veiled threats in the instruction booklets and recall some of the horror stories of what might happen to people who complain about the IRS, I am usually cowed into silence for another year.

This year I am speaking out. Is anyone listening?

Margie Ashe

Baltimore

Bhutto is a friend

Our fearless leaders forget Pakistan was our friend during the Cold War and the war in Afghanistan. Uncle Sam deals with India, which not only has nuclear weapons but is also developing ballistic missiles.

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is seeking a military balance with India. She is asking us to apply sanctions equally to both nations. Ms. Bhutto also suggests that the United States should offer to mediate the conflict over the province of Kashmir in order to prevent a future war.

If common sense were more common, our politicians would lift the Pressler amendment which bans U.S. arms sales to Pakistan.

Our government donates a fortune to North Korea to persuade its leaders to stop its development of nuclear weapons. We also do business with China, which is a cruel communist nation.

Many of your readers believe Uncle Sam should stop rewarding our enemies and punishing our friends.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Silent world

I read with interest the April 16 feature article describing the life and death of Charlie Christensen, the hearing impaired individual who was recently murdered.

The article served to enlighten those who never gave thought of what it would be like to be unable to hear or speak.

As one who is dating a hearing impaired person, I can relate to the daily obstacles Mr. Christensen endured throughout his life. The day-to-day communication most of us take for granted is TC constant struggle for the deaf.

A night out at the movie theater or listening to the radio are just a few of life's pleasures hearing impaired people cannot enjoy.

Understanding and engaging in conversation with others is very difficult without someone to assist in interpreting what is being said.

Misunderstandings in conversations occur often. Being deaf isolates individuals from the mainstream and breeds frustration and loneliness.

I do hope the killers of Mr. Christensen are brought to justice. The best punishment for them would not be prison, but instead to make them deaf for the rest of their lives.

Only then could they experience just how maddening it is to live in a world of silence.

James D. Brown

Baltimore

Purchases of Guns

I was surprised, but pleased, to see The Sun chronicle, on the front page yet, the failure of the gun-control laws to curtail straw purchases of firearms (March 26).

Surprise! Gun-control laws hassle law-abiding citizens but don't deter criminals.

If a criminal wants a gun, he gets a gun, either outside the law or, according to this article, inside the law.

The only gun-control laws that have a history of success against crime are the lenient gun-carry laws of Florida and some other states. Too bad Maryland is not so enlightened.

I am sure that the article was written as a prelude to the next level of gun-control hysteria, but the real solution to the crime problem can also be deduced from this article.

To wit, Gardenia Blanding committed a firearms crime by being a straw purchaser but was given immunity for squealing on her boy friend. He, in turn, received a suspended sentence for illegally purchasing firearms.

Here are two people identified as being guilty of firearm crimes, but neither one is in jail.

Then Nathaniel Dawson, the recipient of Ms. Blanding's straw-bought weapons, is identified as a drug lord and is responsible for the shooting death of an innocent child, yet he is still drawing the breath of life.

The gun-grabbers are busy thinking of new ways to harass the law-abiding gun owner. But if they really want to attack crime, they would aim their guns at the courts, not at us law-abiding old men who just want to enjoy our gun hobbies.

John Cullom

Catonsville

Smoking Laws

. . .An article in the Maryland section of the March 29 edition noted the impending federal cuts to substance abuse treatment and prevention funds.

It is ludicrous that this state passes a law limiting the use of tobacco products in buildings across the state, but two bills requiring accountability for an already intact statue regarding sales of tobacco products to minors are put aside.

. . .Were our state representatives truly oblivious to the ramifications when letting these bills be defeated? Do they comprehend the outcome when funds of this magnitude end programs that work to impact on communities more paralyzed by substance abuse issues each passing day?

I am currently involved in a program in Carroll County that is subsidized in part by this federal grant money. What options do our legislators propose if these funds are cut?

Where do sincere, earnest individuals turn to address their treatment options if they seek out assistance in ending their substance abuse problems?

The state is not going to pick up the tab. That I know first-hand. I will not even attempt to address the federal government decision-making with money. When we talk about problems of accountability and responsibility, does the adage, "lead by example" hit close to home?

Our elected officials have to be held responsible and accountable for their decisions, and we as voters have to contact them if we perceive them as failing.

Joe Hassman, M.D.

Baltimore

Good Samaritan

I write this letter to thank the good Samaritan who returned $6,000 in cash to the Russian couple.

In this day and age of sensational trials, ethnic wars and a pervasive lack of respect for human decency, it is uplifting to read about someone who practices random kindness and performs acts of beauty that make sense.

Lawrence M. Garten

Baltimore

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