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Letter: Minnesota overtaxes Social Security

Minnesota has the dubious honor of being only one of three states that taxes Social Security benefits to the same extent as the federal government. Ten states partially tax it and 37 place no tax on these benefits.

In Rep. Erik Simonson's April 3 column, he mentions the income levels at which the benefits aren't taxed. These levels were established in 1985, when the median income was $24,436. In 2014 the median income was $67,244, twice the exemption threshold established in 1985.

In 1985 about 160,000 Minnesotans paid tax on their benefits. Today there are nearly 400,000 state seniors out of a total of 930,000 Social Security recipients who pay a state income tax on their benefits.

One of AARP's state legislative priorities this year is to get the tax burden on seniors reduced by increasing the exemption level to about $73,000, which would approximate the median income level today. They also suggest that an automatic inflationary protection to the exemption level be added. These proposals seem to be a good first step in bringing our tax policy more in line with other states and thus reducing the tax burden on our seniors.

Kiplinger Magazine listed Minnesota as the fourth worst state for retiring seniors, based on state tax policy. Our social security tax policy has much to do with this rating. I suggest we urge our legislators to improve our tax policy toward seniors.

Richard Andree

Duluth

Richard Andree is a member of the AARP Legislative Advocacy Team.

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