The NEWS with Tim O'Callaghan

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Filing tax return is our duty

This first published April 18, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.


Every year I wait until the last minute to file our income tax return. This year was no different. I sat down with our CPA on April 14 to assemble a box full of documentation into a small book.
Why is it that angst begins to form in my gut when the tax documents begin to arrive in January from banks, investment companies and the credit union?
I would say because it’s an important responsibility as an American, a citizen of the United States, and I don’t take it lightly.
Ideally, that would be the truth, but really it’s because I wonder if all the required documents will arrive on time. It’s all about being on time for me, whether it’s a meeting, appointment or a ballgame. Having never missed filing income tax returns in my life — except one extension because of a late K1 — I find it inexcusable for one not to file.
This is what amazes me about this year in particular. With the expectation of the economic stimulation rebate in full swing, more Americans than ever were not only expected to file, but to file on time.
Expected to file? Have they not filed before? Do they usually file late?
How do they sleep at night? I would have nightmares of IRS agents assaulting the house like storm troopers, whisking my children off and selling them into servitude to pay the tax bill.
Amazingly millions of people don’t file at all! I don’t understand that either. It’s un-American not to pay your taxes. This is how we fuel our government to keep us free and provide services.
Is it fun to pay taxes? Not at all! It is a necessary evil that causes a great deal of stress for many people.
Obviously there are millions of Americans who don’t care to contribute to the common good and suffer no stress over it either.
Now that’s freedom — or is it?

Immigration
Over the years I’ve written about immigration and its needed reform. Recently, Timothy Pratt of the Las Vegas Sun has written two interesting stories about the economic impact immigration has had on Southern Nevada. Some we are realizing now and some will be realized down the road.
In one story he explains the “exodus” of immigrants from the area heading to other states and even back to their homelands.
It solidifies many of the theories I’ve presented and the economic force that exists. Removing 12 million people from this country who are working low-paying jobs would be devastating to the economy.
Now the collapse of the housing market has eliminated many jobs right here at home by virtually stopping all new residential construction. The vacuum effect of those jobs — so many of which are held by illegal immigrants or undocumented workers — is now apparent.
However, anti-immigrant proponents will say it’s only the collapse of the illegal immigrants’ network of support. They will also contend it will have no negative effects on Americans.
I beg to differ, and I have said before there is a huge tax contribution made by undocumented workers in the form of sales taxes and other taxes that directly affect every citizen.
The building boom will return to Southern Nevada in the future, but who will swing the hammers and saw the lumber and at what price?
I foresee many manufacturing jobs leaving this country for greener pastures across the border and abroad, creating another economic vacuum. Some say I’m an alarmist, but so far I’m batting close to 1.000 by looking just beyond my own property line.
We need to secure the borders, no argument there. However, we also need to realize the economic stability gained by those already here.
Consider the economic stimulus that could be generated by bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and documenting them. This would also force them to be accountable to the communities in which they live and use services by paying their bills and paying income taxes. They need not become citizens, but they do need to pay their way.
I suggest a visit to lasvegassun.com to read Mr. Pratt’s work and then spend some time reading the comments.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com.