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Sunday, Nov 19, 2017
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Sunday's letters: End greyhound racing in Florida

Tom Lee wants to phase out greyhound racing | Nov. 8

Put a stop to this cruel industry

Kudos to Sen. Tom Lee for shepherding a constitutional amendment to end greyhound racing in Florida. Greyhounds forced to race live in misery and frequently die in misery. Illness and injuries — including broken legs, heatstroke and heart attacks — claim the lives of many dogs.

Countless greyhounds are also killed each year when breeders decide that the dogs won't be fast enough to win races. Dogs have been shot, bludgeoned, or simply dumped to fend for themselves. Those who make the first cut live on borrowed time: Their lives are secure only as long as they make money for their owners. Some discarded dogs suffer on blood factory farms; they are jammed in cramped cages and their blood is repeatedly taken and sold to veterinarians for transfusions to other dogs. They go crazy from stress and lack of space.

The greyhound racing industry is dying. In recent years, dozens of tracks have closed to live racing in the United States and attendance has plummeted.

Florida legislators need to do the right thing and end this cruel industry.

Jennifer O'Connor, PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Va.

Corruption trial

Menendez coverage lacking

How can the Tampa Bay Times call itself a newspaper when there is a very important trial going on in New Jersey and the Times does not print one word about it? Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, is on trial and faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

I realize that the Times is busy trashing President Donald Trump and members of his family and administration on a daily basis, but you would think that the trial of a powerful Democratic senator on charges of corruption would earn space in a real newspaper. I can only imagine the stories we would read if Menendez were a Republican.

James Wallace, Gulfport

Tax reform

Keep the adoption credit

House Republicans have unveiled their long-awaited tax reform plan. One important provision is eliminated as part of the proposed overhaul: the adoption tax credit. As an adoption attorney in Florida, I feel compelled to weigh in on this debate.

Adopting a child can be costly. A survey of 1,100 families who adopted children from 2012 to 2013 found that on average, families spent $34,093 on independent adoptions and $39,966 if they went through an agency.

The adoption tax credit is one thing that helps to defray those costs. The credit, created 20 years ago, provides families with a lifetime maximum deduction of $13,570 for adoption-related expenses. (In 2017, the credit starts phasing out for households earning $203,540.)

It's not just about dollar and cents. In my career as an adoption attorney, I've seen countless examples of the difference the adoption tax credit has made for adoptive families. The tax credit is often a deciding factor in whether or not families can adopt. It also keeps children out of foster care, a much greater cost to our states and communities.

Many members of Congress argue the Republican tax reform proposal will put money back in Americans' pockets. This is inaccurate due to the exorbitant costs that will be incurred when children languish in foster care without being adopted. In addition, even with the proposed increased standard deduction and the child tax credit, it will take some families years to save the amount of money equivalent to the adoption tax credit deduction.

In the past week, organizations and individuals across the ideological spectrum have supported the adoption credit. Why? Because, caring for kids and creating healthy families is something we should all support. As Congress continues to hash out the details of the tax reform bill, the adoption tax credit must be saved in any legislation.

Jeanne Trudeau Tate, Tampa

Busting the budget

I am concerned that the tax bill would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. We already have put too high a financial burden on the next generation with the current deficit.

And I don't understand why the wealthy need such a large tax decrease. Neither the Reagan tax decreases nor the George W. Bush tax decreases helped spur the economy or increase jobs.

If we are going to increase the deficit by that much, I think the money should be invested in our country's deteriorating infrastructure, which will definitely increase jobs; to make our country safer and more secure; to improve our quality of life; and to make our country more attractive to business.

We are a middle-class family whose taxes would increase under both the House and Senate tax bills. I understand that trade-offs are necessary to reform taxes. However, it is not acceptable to me that I'm going to pay more money so the wealthy well receive a huge tax break. I can't think of any reason that the estate tax needs to be repealed. It is only paid by people who inherit over $5 million!

Georgia Earp, St. Petersburg

It's not that complicated

Why is reducing the taxes on the middle class so complicated? Instead of rushing to deliver a complicated tax plan by year's end, why not just reduce the bottom two tax rates from 10 and 15 percent to 8 and 13 percent? If that grows the deficit too much, then the percentage could be adjusted appropriately.

This would give the Republicans the tax reduction win that they want and the Democrats the focus on the middle class that they want. The wrangling over which interest group is going to benefit the most would be relegated to a later time. Families of four making $50,000, $75,000, $100,000 and those above $114,000 would see tax reductions of about $400, $900, $1,400 and $1,500 respectively.

Bob Peretti, Tarpon Springs

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