I now understand why Eleanor Holmes Norton and her husband neglected to file their D.C. income tax returns for the previous seven years; $88,546 (including penalties) is a large pill to swallow, even for a family with an income over $300,000 per year. Although Mrs. Norton's excuse seems to be a bit far-fetched, a plurality of voters have accepted her claim that she was unaware of the growing tax liability.

However, I cannot accept Mrs. Norton's response to her political crisis. I attended a candidate's forum that was held on Sept. 10. Mrs. Norton strode to the podium and asserted with great indignation that her accountant had just informed her that she may have overpaid her D.C. taxes and that the city probably owed her a refund. Now that the full extent of her tax liability has been revealed, Mrs. Norton's statement appears to have been an attempt to mislead D.C. voters, and it casts an even darker shadow over her integrity.

Washington can ill afford to have as its delegate to Congress a person who failed to pay such a large sum of taxes for such a long time. But is is especially damaging that Mrs. Norton has no compunction about deluding her constituents. I hope Mrs. Norton will withdraw from the race for D.C. delegate and thereby restore Washington's credibility in the eyes of Congress and the nation. DAVID A. ROSSI Washington