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Get facts on taxes

Several recent letters provided inaccurate information about Nebraska’s approach to Social Security benefits, implying that Nebraska directly taxes all such benefits. Nebraska, as do most states with an income tax system, piggybacks on the federal calculation of taxable income. For federal purposes, taxpayers who receive Social Security benefits and who have income from other sources may be taxed on up to 85% of the Social Security amounts received for the year. The majority of people who rely almost exclusively on Social Security benefits for retirement income are not subject to any tax on Social Security benefits at the federal level.

Nebraska’s calculation of taxable income starts with the amount of Social Security benefits included for federal taxable income, i.e., up to 85% for some taxpayers. Thus, the majority of Nebraskans who rely almost exclusively on Social Security benefits for retirement income would not be subject to any tax on Social Security benefits at the Nebraska tax level. For taxpayers who do have Social Security benefits included in income, unlike the majority of states, Nebraska taxable income does not have an adjustment that reduces the amount of such benefits subject to tax.

So: Neither the federal income tax system nor the Nebraska tax system taxes 100% of Social Security benefits. Nebraska does tax Social Security benefits only to the extent the benefits are included in federal taxable income. Nebraska does not have an adjustment to reduce Nebraska taxable income for Social Security benefits. The majority of retirees who rely almost entirely on Social Security benefits for their retirement income will not pay federal or state income taxes on such income.

Tom Purcell, Omaha

No to drug price caps

State Sens. Justin Wayne and Kate Bolz are wrong to call for caps on the prices of insulin. Such caps could result in insulin shortages as well as black markets and force the price up further. Price controls don’t work.

Instead of appealing to a minority of people, why don’t these senators help everyone by putting a cap on taxes and government spending? Everyone has health care to pay for. Placing an equivalent $100 per month cap on taxes would help people pay off their bills and stay healthy. Oh, but that would result in a shortage of government! Sounds good to me, as people would solve their own problems.

Or perhaps these senators could propose legislation requiring county treasurers to enclose with the property tax statements a toll-free number to the suicide hotline. Every year, just before Christmas, these tax statements are sent to property owners, ruining the holidays for many people, yet these senators hardly care.

Andrew L. Sullivan, Omaha

Time to leave the Big Ten

I read in the paper that of the top 10 sports stories of this last decade, the top story was the University of Nebraska changing conferences from the Big Twelve to the Big Ten. This move should in fact be labeled as the “Boneheaded Move of the Decade.”

Nothing good has happened to the Big Red since the move to the Big Ten. Every time I hear people complain about the long-distance travel to play football against the likes of Rutgers and Maryland and the other strange scheduling, the answer is, “Well, but what about the money?”

Seems to me, the pot of gold brought to the University of Nebraska by the Big Ten television contract has been an albatross around the university’s neck. The NU Athletic Department has so much money they don’t know what to do with it, except maybe pay extravagant salaries to coaches and propose a $155 million facility expansion. Still, somehow, tuition and other costs continue to rise for the students at the school.

But, university officials can still correct this problem — by dropping out of the Big Ten Conference and going independent. They could then schedule themselves into a much better opportunity to win another national championship. The University of Nebraska Cornhusker football program will always have enough money to accomplish this goal.

Getting out of the Big Ten and going it alone would do wonders for Big Red football.

Ricky Fulton, Omaha

Saudi regime poses a threat

So, a Saudi citizen who received flight training in the States shot and killed three Americans. Had he been more patient, he may have been flying a U.S. Navy fighter plane. Think of the possibilities.

In 2001, a group of mostly Saudis also took flight training at civilian flight schools in the U.S. One of them reportedly said he wasn’t concerned with learning how to land the large airliner he was learning to fly. Do you suppose we should be concerned that Saudi Arabia,the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, might not be our close friend and ally?

James Byrk, Plattsmouth, Neb.

Murante chose wrong spot

State Treasurer John Murante says he wanted a location near the center of Omaha for his satellite office. North to South Burke Street is probably close, but 181st Street? Does Omaha extend to 362nd Street, or is his math fuzzy?

The County Election Commission came much closer at 120th Street. Also, for people at the eastern part of town, the buses do not go that far if someone does not drive.

Janice Fulmer, Omaha

Don’t sub in Pence

In response to Bert Mehrer’s Dec. 6 Pulse letter (“Why Not President Pence?”), my response is — America did not elect Vice President Pence to be president. We elected President Trump. If Mr. Mehrer doesn’t believe in free elections, perhaps he should relocate to a place where there are none — perhaps Venezuela.

I would also state that many of us didn’t agree with all the programs put forth by the prior administration. We didn’t start impeachment or call for Vice President Biden to be “placed” in the role of president when former President Obama was offering a “quid pro quo” on an open mic caught him telling the Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, to advise Vladimir Putin that there would be more “flexibility” to negotiate after the 2012 election. This would have included a renegotiation of our missile defense program.

What America did was see the real issues and we waited for lawful elections as set forth in our Constitution to install a different kind of candidate. Not a puppet of the Left and of Russia, but a man who will stand up to them.

I would also advise you to be careful what you ask for. The next target of voter dissatisfaction might be a Democrat who faces the same treatment that our current president is facing.

Marie Salistean, Omaha

Disappointed in Bacon, Sasse

In a time of a religious holidays of faith, I caught myself wondering what the Founding Fathers would think of faith in seeing how some of our public servants behave and embrace party lines in our country’s time of moral crisis — and where faith in the need of the party and its lies is considered more important than needs of the country in mutual collaboration with members of opposition.

Congressman Don Bacon has supported untruths via the GOP House leadership and President Trump. He has supported the buildup of future debt in our country for the narrow needs of the few who are rich. He does not support livable wages. He pushes his narrow Military Complex pets.

Sen. Ben Sasse has followed party lines, too, rather than show a strong moral compass. His vote for Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court showed me that people who act like spoiled brats and disrespect their possible accusers is OK by Sasse when his party supports it.

Nebraskans and Americans deserve better public servants who actually put the needs of all Americans first, defend our U.S. Constitution fully and do not care what party gets credit for laws that help all Americans. Pray that 2020 results in our better angels leading us to choose to put faith in that type of person regardless of party.

Philip O’Brien, Omaha

Change of heart

I read where President Trump was for abortion at one time but now he is against it. People can have changes of heart. Kind of like President Obama being against gay marriage and then being for it.

Chris Lewis, Omaha

Excellent performance

I had the pleasure to take my son’s family to see “Yesterday & Today” at the Omaha Community Playhouse on Dec. 22. The performance was absolutely “over-the-top” fantastic, and I loved the interactive song requests, funny and embarrassing. The audience loudly “raised the roof” on this one!

Billy McGuigan and his brothers totally rock!

Diane Holmes, Omaha

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