Taxes are constitutional

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- We are fortunate to live in a country where we get to pay taxes. Those taxes pay for our highways, law enforcement, armed forces and many other public services that sometimes we take for granted. Just about every day you can hear news about countries that don't have such services . . . Imagine living in such places.

The federal government's power to tax is derived from Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States of America, which grants Congress the "power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises . . ." .The 16th Amendment to the Constitution also states that "Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived ...". The Constitution further explains that taxes "provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."

The very first internal-revenue tax law was enacted on March 3, 1791, and imposed a tax on distilled spirits and stills. Since that time, the current Internal-Revenue Tax Code has unfolded.

Throughout the history of taxes in this country, revenue paid into the federal government has been the primary means to support a strong infrastructure, including railways, roads and airlines, defend the nation in times of war, and lead the world in political, economic and technological advances.

The United States has the longest running, and most successful, taxation system in the history of the world.

The bottom line is that for well over one hundred years, we have had a codified body of laws that make it a requirement for all citizens to file their income tax return with the federal government.

The enforcement of this law can sometimes be difficult for those filing their taxes, and even worse for those who wrongfully choose not to file. Some of the nation's worst criminals have been incarcerated on tax evasion charges, including the infamous gangster Al Capone.

Some people who overpay their taxes by having excessive withholdings from their pay are allowed to file a return with the federal government where they receive a refund of the excess money paid.

If those who have overpaid their federal taxes are gracious enough to not want your excess taxes back, they may choose not to file a tax return. Only those entitled to a refund may choose not to file and if mistaken, criminal charges may still be filed against them for failing to file.

The bottom line - filing taxes is everyone's responsibility. With the Eielson Air Force Base's volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program providing free assistance, there is no reason to put off the task.