Happy tax day! Thanks to Emancipation Day, the tax procrastinators of the Nation were given a couple extra days to file taxes this year. April 15th fell on a Sunday so you would expect the deadline to move to Monday. This year Monday is Emancipation Day so the deadline was pushed to Tuesday, April 17th. Emancipation Day, you ask? It’s a local holiday in the District of Columbia and by law, District of Columbia holidays are treated like federal holidays when it comes to tax deadlines. This really makes me wonder what other local holidays I’m missing out on.
Tax day also reminds me tax evasion is a national problem. David Callahan, who heads the think tank DEMOS, estimates the government misses out on 15% of what it is owed every year by tax evaders. This is from a combination of people who “fudge” on their taxes and people who make sophisticated steps to keep income from the government like setting up off shore bank accounts. By the way, that 15% a year adds up to about 3 trillion dollars over the last 10 years. Collecting the money would be a step in the right direction for cutting the federal deficit.
The IRS cut 5000 jobs this past year. Does this mean we are going to see an increase in tax evasion? The United States has a history of compliance. Tax payers who do their part and pay their fair share do it because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They believe it’s one of the things that makes this a great country. I also believe there is a mix of people who don’t want to be the only person paying what they really owe because they know they are making up for all the people who are cheating. As a result, they fudge a little themselves and are quick to point a finger at anyone else caught cheating.
This is where paying taxes and water conservation meets. A previous post by Taylor Harris, Let’s Be Honest About How Much Water We Really Use, is a great example of the water savings dilemma. We want to save water, but we also want to be sure we are not doing more than our fair share while others waste water away. I also wrote a post last year, 1881 An Opportunity To Do The Right Thing, which discussed the new laws in California designed to promote more efficient landscape irrigation. The biggest complaint I hear about the new laws is who is going to enforce it?
Unlike the IRS, who at least had 5000 jobs to cut, we in the water world don’t have that type of enforcement available today to cut. However, I continue to make the claim we don’t need the enforcement. We are not all moral hypocrites. Just like taxes, where I believe a large portion of people pay their fair share, I believe a large majority of people want to conserve. We are experiencing a global movement for conservation and sustainability. I expect the United States to lead the change. After all, it’s what makes this country great.
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