The Dec. 5 editorial "The Minimum Tax" accurately characterized the alternative minimum tax when it states "the goal is noble but the design is flawed."

However, the tax would not be fixed even if we did index it. Most of the significant business-related provisions that were in the alternative minimum tax have been repealed, leaving state and local taxes, personal exemptions and nonrefundable credits as the primary reasons why individuals fall prey to the alternative minimum tax -- and this is not what Congress intended.

Congress granted temporary relief with respect to the nonrefundable credits for the education and per-child credit for 1999-2001. But the alternative minimum tax itself must be replaced.

I have a proposal that would replace the alternative minimum tax with a simple tax on adjusted gross income. The tax would begin at one percent of adjusted gross income in excess of $120,000 on a joint return and increase to just more than 2 percent for income greater than $150,000, which is where the minimum tax exemption begins to phase out.

Thus, the replacement tax would affect those same individuals who would benefit from repeal of the alternative minimum tax. It also would pay for repealing the current law phase-outs of the personal exemption and itemized deduction.

This proposal would cut about 200 lines from individual income tax forms, without increasing taxes, and without moving money between economic income groups.

RICHARD E. NEAL

U.S. Representative (D-Mass.)

Washington