The Jan. 6 issue of the Times contained an article headlined "Study: Romney's tax plan hits poor hard," by Stephen Ohlemacher. I had grown up poor in the days when a few dollars put to good use could make a lot of difference. The article's headline grabbed my attention.

Ohlemacher indicated that households making $50,000 to $75,000 annually would receive tax cuts averaging 2.2 percent, or about $250, under Mitt Romney's plan. Those making more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging 15 percent, or about $146,000. However, when describing the additional burden to the poor, Ohlemacher also mentioned that households making less than $20,000 would see their taxes increase by more than 60 percent.

Many people with very low incomes pay no federal income tax because their standard deduction and exemptions reduce their taxable income to zero. Sixty percent of zero is still zero. So what did the more than 60 percent estimated increase in taxes really mean? Would currently exempt low-wage earners have to pay federal income tax under the Romney plan? Would earned income tax credits drop by more than 60 percent? Or would earners now sending Uncle Sam a total of $100 or $1,000 in taxes per year instead shell out more than $160 or $1,600?

The average annual dollar effect on low-income households would have helped me and other readers better evaluate the Romney tax plan. Additional words, like additional dollars, can make a lot of difference when put to good use.


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Laurel Anne Hill is a resident of Orinda.