Writing Letters About Income Taxes

Letters to Media

People really do read letters to newspapers and magazines, comments on blogs, and postings in online forums. So getting a letter published is a great way to influence public opinion.

Newspapers receive a great many letters to the editor. The more people who send letters on one topic, the better chance that the editor will print something on that topic. So even if you letter isn’t published, writing is a great way to influence the editorial board.

Here are some tips on writing a letter to a newspaper editor. With some tweaking, the same tips should help you with electronic media, too.

  • A letter to the editor responds to a recently published story.
  • A letter can either favor or oppose a point made in the story.
  • Don’t just be negative; instead, suggest what the reporter/author should have said.
  • Letters to the editor communicate personal opinions.
  • If you can add a personal detail, great! Put a human face on the issue.
  • Letters to the editor are most often published if written by local residents, not by organizations.
  • In your opening sentence, reference the title and date of the article you are responding to.
  • Do not waste space repeating what the article said – instead, go straight to your main point.
  • Make the most important point in the first paragraph.
  • Write no more than three quick paragraphs, totaling between 100 and 200 words – shorter is better.
  • Include your name and contact information. Anonymous letters are rarely printed.

Here is a sample letter. If you write a letter, send us a copy. If it gets published, please let us know so we can celebrate with you!

Dear Editor,

In [name & date of article], you talk only about the marriage penalty side of the marriage tax penalty/bonus issue — leaving the impression that marrieds are being unfairly taxed and that conversely singles aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

You don’t mention marriage bonuses at all, let alone the fact that 30 million married couples get bonuses compared to 18 million who pay penalties. What’s more, according to the most recent data from the Treasury Dept., the average bonus exceeds the average penalty by over $600 ($1,691 vs. $1,056).

I beg you to write about the marriage penalty/bonus issue in a much less one-sided way.

Sincerely,

name
address
phone number

Letters to Politicians

One good place to send the same letter to multiple legislators (e.g. Congress person, both senators, your state legislators) and the President is at http://www.congress.org.

Sample letter to Congress:

Dear Representative ___ / Senator ___:

I believe that individuals’ incomes should be taxed without regard to their marital status. People should be free to choose whether to marry without having to calculate if marrying will make their income taxes higher or lower.

I would like to know your position on the way that income taxes intersect with marital status. Do you think it’s fair that, according to the Treasury Dept., 30 million married couples get a tax break for being married while 18 million couples suffer marriage tax penalties? If not, what will you do about it?

Please oppose the following bills and their successors: HR 834; HR 163; HR 411; HR 1421; S181. Allow the marital status provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 to expire at the end of 2010. These provisions provide a patch to the marriage penalty problem but continue to explicitly subsidize marriage through the tax code.

Please request a new study from the Congressional Budget Office (the last one was done in 1998), so that we have a full and current understanding of the size of the imbalance between singles’ and marrieds’ taxes in income ranges that are relevant to the majority of taxpayers.

Please propose amendments to the Internal Revenue Code so that all individuals are taxed progressively based on income, not marital status.

Thank you, I look forward to your response.

Name
Mailing address