The Oct. 7 Business article "Conferees Agree on Corporate Tax Bill" said that the "[f]inancial backers of native Alaskan whalers . . . would be able to claim their contributions as a charitable tax deduction." This statement is untrue.

The provision provides a deduction of up to $10,000 for whaling captains -- not their "financial backers." The captains need this because they have no "financial backers." As tribal leaders, they are the sole financial backers of their own subsistence whaling activities in the Arctic North Slope.

In this work, the whaling captains donate the whale harvest to the tribal communities for festivals, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The importance of the bowhead cannot be overstated: It provides life, meaning and identity to Eskimo whalers and their communities.

The International Whaling Commission bans all commercial whaling. The sole purpose of the hunt is subsistence. The whaling captains' personal support of the hunt is no longer tenable; they need to offset their expenses.

Since they are neither engaging in any business activity nor contributing to a recognized nonprofit organization, they cannot deduct the expenses from their personal income taxes. Amending the Internal Revenue Code to permit the deduction will preserve this tradition.



The writer is a lobbyist for Alaskan Eskimo whaling captains.