Shoppers in this deliriously rich Dallas enclave look at it this way: If you can afford a $50,000 Mercedes-Benz, surely, my dear, you can afford the luxury tax on it.

"I don't like it, but I think it's fair," said Rick Jones, sorting through designer shirts at the Polo Shop, one of this community's high-priced shops.But Randle Stricklin, a salesman at Cartier Inc., where watches range in price from $1,000 to $20,000, complained the tax burden should fall evenly on all retailers.

"It hits hard," he said. "Why single out luxury dealers, who have suffered in the last 10 years - especially in Texas?"

Elsewhere in the country, merchants who cater to the carriage trade complain that the government proposal to raise taxes on big-ticket items - including expensive cars, yachts, jewelry and furs - discriminates against their wealthy clientele.

Though they protest, many merchants are bracing for a flurry of sales as customers rush to put an extra case of champagne or a pair of sapphire earrings on their tab for the holidays, before the tax takes effect.

The 10 percent luxury tax, part of a $500 billion deficit-reduction agreement unveiled Sunday, would apply to the portion of the price of some luxury items over certain thresholds.

For example, a $6,000 fur - priced $1,000 above the $5,000 tax threshold - would cost $6,100, if the taxes are approved by Congress. Cars would be taxed at 10 percent of the amount above $30,000. The threshold for jewelry would be $5,000.

"If you can afford to pay $30,000 for a car, you sure can afford to pay a few hundred dollars more," said Terri Jung of Austin as she left a Neiman-Marcus store.

"My first answer as a luxury-car dealer is, maybe it isn't fair," said Todd Meier, president of Rodger Meier Cadillac, where $55,000 cars are sold from a chandelier-lit showroom. "But overall, as a citizen, I think it makes sense to tax people who theoretically can afford it."