Re “As California burns in December, this legislation could protect homeowners” (sacbee.com, Dec. 26): Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery promotes legislation to prevent insurance companies from canceling policies after a wildfire. She says, “our goal is saving lives.” But the truth is that she and the other Placer County supervisors refuse to support or even financially assist the nine rural independent fire districts in Placer County that are the first line of defense against wildfires.
Placer County collects over $45 million in Proposition 172 sales tax money. This voter-approved tax was designated specifically for fire and law enforcement protection, but the supervisors refuse to use any of that money. The districts have been begging for financial assistance, but the supervisors have said, “just go vote your own tax.” The supervisors are enamored with this new Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act. Perhaps it should be amended to require the supervisors to give Proposition 172 money to fire districts. After all, isn’t the goal to save lives, not just keep an insurance policy in place?
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Bad tax advice
Re “Tax bill” (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 26): The writer complains that a Dec. 22 Bee article will prompt many homeowners to needlessly prepay property tax bills. He states that “even couples earning a combined $150,000 and owning a home assessed at $500,000 will likely not exceed the $10,000 exemption.” This is simply false. No California taxpayers in these circumstances pay less than $10,000 in income and property taxes. They, along with many with lesser incomes and homes of lesser value, will indeed benefit from paying the balance of their 2017-2018 property taxes this year because they can’t deduct them in 2018.
Barry Mackintosh, Lincoln
For all the praise the new tax bill is getting for increasing the standard deduction to $24,000 from $12,600, there is little or no mention of the elimination of the $4,050 personal exemption. This means that a family of four actually increases their taxable income by $4,800 under the new bill. This is another example of the Republican motto: “Sock it to the poor.”
Stephen Emanuel, Roseville
New tax brackets
It seems your information is different than mine. A large portion of my career was spent in fiscal analysis and your letters prompted me to run some numbers. My husband and I are retired and file jointly, and our numbers don’t change much from year to year. I compared our 2016 tax numbers (2017 isn’t finished yet but will be substantially the same), with the numbers in the 2018 tax bill. We paid state income tax of $5,600, and property Tax of $6,100 in 2016, a little more than the combined deduction of $10,000 for those items being allowed in 2018.
However, that is not the big issue. The big difference in the 2018 tax bill is that for the past several years, we paid an effective federal tax rate of around 13 percent. In 2018, after our standard $24,000 deduction, we will fall into the 22 percent tax bracket, which will cost us about an extra $8,000 in 2018. Have you checked out those tax brackets for 2018? If not, I would suggest you take a peek at them. You might be unpleasantly surprised.
Janet Thomas, Folsom
Re “Liberal media” (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 26): It’s cheering to read a conservative demanding The Bee disclose tax information. I guess I missed Jerry’s election time letter to his conservative leader, Donald Trump, demanding that he show his income tax information.
Del Jack, Sacramento
Guns vs. crime
Re “In 2018, you can have a say in the nation’s gridlocked gun debate. Don’t waste it” (Editorials, Dec. 28): This editorial decries Sacramento County’s more liberal issuance of concealed carry permits under Sheriff Scott Jones. It notes that Sacramento County now has 9,130 active permits versus only 197 in Los Angeles County. The editorial does not, however, compare gun death statistics between Sacramento County and Los Angeles County.
According to the California Department of Public Health, on average, Los Angeles County has more than five times the number of annual gun deaths as Sacramento County. The editorial board implies that because Sacramento issues more permits, our residents are somehow less safe than those in other parts of the state. There are no legitimate statistics to back up that assertion. All current permit holders in California are required to pass an exhaustive statewide criminal background check, as well as local firearms safety classes and a range qualifications. While there are some inconsistencies in how individual counties issue permits, Californians with them are, by definition, law-abiding citizens and are simply not a statistical crime problem.
It appears as if every aspect of our society has tragically become new “killing fields.” Places of worship, schools, music venues and any other place where people come together in peace are inundated by random violence. Increased issuance of concealed weapons permits can only increase the potential for violence.
It is strangely ironic that our society continues to have this discussion almost 50 years after the horrible events of the My Lai Massacre occurred, but here we are. As just one among many who served in Vietnam, I well remember the consequence of violence and shudder to think what we are now creating for our children and grandchildren. I respect that others obviously disagree with my opinion, but I will not vote for anyone who supports the widespread issuance of concealed weapons permits.
Stephen R. Hoover, Sacramento
Criminals don’t follow or care how many laws are on the books. They are criminals because they break the law. I’ve asked this before of The Bee to do a study of gun crimes in California – or even just Sacramento and Placer Counties – to determine what percentage are committed by concealed carry permit holders. I’ve never received an answer. The only result of more gun laws is to put an unnecessary burden on those who follow the law.
David Thompson, Lincoln
Re ”Millennials reject organized religion but still find meaning in Christmas” (sacbee.com, Dec. 23): Despite the warmth and good cheer that traditionally accompanies this time of year, The Bee seems to be putting coal in everyone’s stocking. I’m referring to this front-page article detailing how religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, are declining in both membership and influence in the wider culture. Whatever the case may be, it would have been uplifting and in the spirit of the season to read about what religion and Christianity, in particular, contribute to society.
James E. Townsend,