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There are a number of situations in which a person may need to write a letter of exemption. For example, it may be needed to explain why a taxpayer is exempt from paying certain local, state, or federal taxes. In addition, such a letter may be needed to legally assert an exemption from legally required vaccinations or other legal requirements to which a person has a valid reason for non-compliance. Although each situation may require slightly different information, the format of a letter of exemption will be largely the same regardless of its intended use. The letter should include basic identifying information, an explanation of the legal obligation and reason for exemption, and clearly state that the writer is claiming the exemption.
When writing a letter of exemption, the first step is to make sure the correspondence is addressed to the appropriate person or agency. Tax agencies, for example, may have many different offices and addresses that receive taxpayer correspondence. A simple telephone call should secure the proper mailing address and name of the person to whom the letter should be addressed, if appropriate.
The letter itself should contain the writer's pertinent information, if not on letterhead, such as name, address, and e-mail address or telephone number. After properly addressing it, the letter should state what it is in reference to, such as "sales tax exemption" or "vaccination exemption." A taxpayer identification number or social security number should also be provided so the recipient knows whose records are affected by the exemption.
Within the body of a letter of exemption, the writer should state what the legal obligation is to which he or she is claiming an exemption. For example, if the legal obligation is to pay sales tax, then the author of the letter should acknowledge that this obligation is the subject of the letter and, therefore, the exemption. After stating what the legal obligation is, the writer should explain why he or she is entitled to an exemption from the obligation. If possible, the author should include a reference to a legal source which entitles him or her to the exemption.
Along with explaining the legal obligation and the reason the writer believes he or she is entitled to the exemption, the letter should clearly state that the writer is claiming the exemption. If the exemption is for a minor, as in the case of the obligation to vaccinate, then the writer must include the name of the child, relationship to the child, and assert the parental exemption for religious reasons, for example. Stating the exemption in a simple sentence at the end of the letter should make it clear to the reader that the author is claiming the exemption.
Many schools would do well to teach their students how to write business letters. A well written letter can mean all the difference between being heard and respected, and being tossed by the wayside.
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