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Senior speaks out

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Wednesday, August 24th, 2005 — [letter to the editor]

Editor,

Nancy McGaraghan's and Bern Becharm's recent remarks about Prop. 13 -- implying we senior citizens grandfathered under Prop. 13 are not paying our way -- are shortsighted.

Seniors have made contributions to this community well above the annual property taxes we have paid over the years. Many of us in the older generation are used to volunteering and doing more than our fair share because that is how we were raised.

Prop. 13 can be made fairer. The most glaring correction needed is the free ride many owners of commercial properties get when businesses change hands. Since the ownership of the property does not change hands, the owner enjoys ever-increasing rents each time a new lease is signed or a new business takes the place of a departing business, but does not experience a corresponding change in property taxes.

Prop. 13 has made it possible for many seniors to remain in the homes they worked hard for all their lives, so that they can spend their senior years among their friends and in the community to which they have contributed.

Here's another point: While we pre-1975 property owners may be experiencing a tax break now, when we sell these highly inflated houses, as most of us end up doing as we get really old, we will pay an enormous capital-gains tax. I calculate that my tax alone after considering the maximum basis and the $500,000 exemption will exceed $100,000.

I am really a little bit tired of hearing disparaging remarks about senior citizens. In other, perhaps more civilized countries, we seniors are treated with the respect our advancing years merit.

Dick Placone
Chimalus Drive
Palo Alto