It's time to contact your legislator!

 

Are you writing a letter or email to your legislator about the social security benefits elimination?  Here are some tips.

 

Contact your legislator, any or all the following tax committee members.

 Chair:
Roger C. Chamberlain (38, R)
3225 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-1253
E-mail: sen.roger.chamberlain@senate.mn
 
           
Ranking Minority Member:
Ann H. Rest (45, DFL)
2217 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-2889
E-mail form
 
           
Vice Chair:
David H. Senjem (25, R)
3401 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3903
E-mail: sen.david.senjem@senate.mn
 
Committee Members
Paul T. Anderson (44, R)
2103 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-9261
E-mail form
 
           
Kari Dziedzic (60, DFL)
2203 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-7809
E-mail form
 
           
Paul E. Gazelka (09, R)
3113 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-4875
E-mail form
 
           
Eric R. Pratt (55, R)
3219 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-4123
E-mail: sen.eric.pratt@senate.mn
 
           
Thomas M. Bakk (03, DFL)
2221 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-8881
E-mail form
 
           
Melisa Franzen (49, DFL)
2229 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-6238
E-mail form
 
           
Jeremy R. Miller (28, R)
3107 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-5649
E-mail: sen.jeremy.miller@senate.mn

 

The House has already heard these bills but they are “laid over for possible inclusion” in the tax omnibus bill so they will come up again.  The Senate has not yet heard them.

 

Use the subject line: Please eliminate the tax on social security benefits for seniors NOW

 

Only make one long or 3 short points.

 

One personal anecdote that drives the point home is more powerful than 3 statements of opinion at the legislature.  What will stick with the members of the committee is how this new law or change in the law will affect you or how the present situation is affecting you now.  Share as much detail as you are comfortable with.  For example, In the case of the social security bills, you could share how your tax burden affects your decisions about spending and your future in Minnesota. Nobody expects you to be an expert, except on your own experience!

 

 

Here are some points about this issue to help guide your writing

 

 

  • Over 637,000 Minnesotans stand to benefit by saving an average of $600 per person each and every year that social security is no longer taxed.
  • In 2014,The Non-Partisan Minnesota House Research found that over 70% of Minnesota seniors would be positively affected by such a change.
  • Minnesota is now one of only 4 states that does not provide Social Security income tax breaks to retirees.
    • Because federal law does not index the threshold of income at which benefits become taxable, inflation will result in larger shares of Social Security benefits becoming taxable.
    • Minnesota Ranks 3rd on Kiplinger's list of the "Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees" in their September 2015 report.

 

 

Retirement Hell

 

What Kiplinger’s  said: “Maybe long winters aren't the only reason seniors leave this state for warmer climes. The North Star State taxes Social Security income to the same extent as the federal government (up to 85%). Pensions are taxable regardless of whether they're military, government or private pensions. In 2013, the state added a new top income tax rate of 9.85% on taxable income of more than $150,000 for single filers and more than $250,000 for joint filers.” In 2016 we are #3 in the worst states to retire in.

 

In 2014 Kiplingers dropped the “retirement heaven/hell” terminology and now call them “least tax friendly.” 

 

“Inter-generational warfare”

 

The argument that not taxing social security is unfair to younger people invents generational warfare and distracts from the real issue, which is the state’s voracious appetite for more revenue. That is the reason we are trying to mitigate the negative impact of our tax code.  I also hope you remember how much “younger shoulders... already bear a heavy load” when it comes to discussing taxes and the budget more generally.

 

The Minnesota State Demographic Center which clearly shows that seniors as a group are voting with their feet. (Minnesotans on the Move, January 2015)  The authors also note that we have a population of “snowbirds” many of whom are seniors –who are part time residents in Minnesota spending their winters in warmer climates.  If they are already accustomed to living elsewhere, surely, planning to live there a little longer each year to escape “the 183 day rule” that the Department of Revenue uses to define residency is even easier.

 

What about cops, firefighters and other government employees that don’t get social security? We tax their pensions. Would this be fair to them?

 

There are some groups of retirees who don’t get social security, because they belong to a retirement fund that pre-dates social security. The contributions they make all go to this fund and typically are a lot higher than social security contributions and so are their benefits.  These “basic” members of PERA and some other funds have a different retirement plan and usually have long career service which gives them a benefit based on the number of years worked.  It’s a reasonable question to ask whether we should tax these pensions but it’s a separate question from Social Security, which is a social safety net and even used to be referred to as “old age insurance.” 

 

It is an oddity of Minnesota tax law that we subtract pension benefits from taxation for railroad workers  (the Railroad Board, not private company pensions) but no others. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Name, City, Zipcode


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