Grover Norquist [letters, July 1] backs repeal of the estate tax because those who pay the estate tax have "paid taxes four or five times on the same dollar of income, including when they earned a paycheck, when they saved, when they invested and when they received their dividend."

According to a report by Ruth Carlitz and Joel Friedman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that is untrue. Ninety-nine percent of estates do not pay any tax because of current exemption levels. Those estates that do end up "suffering" under the estate tax usually have not been taxed because, the report found, "the majority of assets in estates valued over $10 million consist of untaxed capital gains . . . bonds that have appreciated in value since they were first purchased by the decedent but have never been subject to tax."

Mr. Norquist may sympathize with the billionaires who have to share all of their hard-earned money, but I ask that he also think about the $1 trillion in lost revenue the repeal of this "shell game" would mean. Last I checked, we were mired in a war, cutting programs for our nation's most vulnerable citizens and running record deficits. But then again, we all have our priorities.


Vorheesville, N.Y.

The writer is an intern at Results, a nonprofit lobby that is part of the Fair Taxes for All Coalition.

Grover Norquist said that one pays tax on the same dollar of income four to five times.

That is dishonest.

While we pay taxes on a dollar when it is earned as income, when we save that dollar, we pay taxes only on the interest earned. When we invest the dollar, we pay taxes on additional capital gains -- again not part of the original dollar but an addition to it. The same is true of dividends.

If Mr. Norquist wants to be taken seriously in this debate and not be seen as trying to protect the riches of the wealthy through any means, he should use rhetoric that bears some relation to logic and reality.


Silver Spring