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Letter: Taxing Social Security ‘wrong and counterproductive’

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I was disappointed to read Merilee Dannemann’s column (“Taxes have to come from somewhere”) arguing in favor of maintaining the state’s tax on Social Security income. In other words, her view is that New Mexico should continue to be one of the 13 states that imposes a double tax on Social Security income (it is a double tax because New Mexicans pay income tax on the money that is deducted from their paychecks for Social Security, and then are taxed again on the Social Security income they receive).

This double tax is wrong and counterproductive because nearly two-thirds of New Mexicans have nothing saved for their retirement, and about 80% of New Mexicans have $10,000 or less saved for their retirement. For the vast majority of New Mexicans, Social Security is their only source of retirement income.

This tax, which costs the average New Mexico senior nearly $700 a year, falls hardest on middle income seniors who make too much to qualify for low-income tax exemptions. They have worked hard and played by the rules their whole lives — and already paid tax on all the money they put into the Social Security program throughout their working years.

In addition, more than 55,000 New Mexico grandparents are the primary guardians for their grandchildren, and many are struggling to meet the financial needs of their grandchildren without outliving their savings. Why should they have to pay this double tax?

Think New Mexico is not alone in our conviction that the time has come to repeal this double tax: the city councils of Las Cruces, Clovis and Santa Fe, and the county commissions of Otero, Sandoval, San Juan and Doña Ana have all passed resolutions calling on legislators and the governor to repeal or reduce the double tax on Social Security income.

We hope the Roswell City Council and the Chaves County Commission will join this growing list.

Fred Nathan, Jr., Executive Director
Think New Mexico