Recently I appeared at a hearing in Hartford by the State’s General Assembly Committee on Aging to give testimony on behalf of Fairfield Senior Advocates, a  group committed to improving life for senior citizens in Connecticut.

Our purpose was to support “Raised Bill 6987” which would exempt  state income tax on all Social Security benefits.  This would give long-overdue tax relief to many seniors  throughout Connecticut.

More than 74 legislators from both parties, representing more than 42 percent of the General Assembly,  have now sponsored or co-signed bills proposing this action.  We appreciate the efforts of our state representatives to move this issue forward, but we cannot be satisfied until  a bill is released from committee, voted on, and enacted into law.

Senior residents of our state generally live on fixed incomes, while taxes have risen much faster than the rate of inflation.  This includes state taxes on Social Security income, other retirement income such as pensions, IRA’s, and 401K’s, and for some, estate taxes.  At the same time, the seniors in our towns are also paying a disproportionate share of the high costs of education via their property taxes; disproportionate because they are essentially subsidizing education costs without having children in their town’s  education system.

Connecticut is one of only four states losing population.  When seniors leave Connecticut, so go their income taxes, sales and gasoline taxes, and of course we lose the revenue they supply to  restaurants, supermarkets, health facilities, and other local businesses.

Only 12 other states tax Social Security benefits.  Nearby states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania do not tax these benefits, and in some cases do not tax other retirement income as well.  We need to make Connecticut a more affordable state so that our seniors can stay here.

We urge residents to write  to their representatives to support elimination of this tax.

Gordon Mackenzie lives in Fairfield.

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