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Summit up

AP PhotoHappy 16th birthday, Riley Campbell! Congratulations on a great ski season! Love, Mom and Dad.

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that could be the only one paying its taxes.We were actually quite good this year: We mailed off our tax returns almost three weeks ago. Now, if we could only get on the same punctual schedule with our Christmas shopping and our bills. But we’re pretty sure that’s just not humanly possible, so …

No, we bring up the tax thing because we assume that our readers, like most Americans, haven’t taken care of that little annual headache yet. And after we tell you what we’re about to tell you, you might not.We say that because, according to NPR this morning, the difference between what you all are supposed to be paying and what you actually pay amounts to about $300 billion a year. That’s a lot of zeros, in more ways than one.Granted, we probably wouldn’t argue with you for not paying them, as we ourselves sometimes question the wisdom with which that money is spent. It’s not so much the $50 hammers that bother us as it is, say, our elected representatives’ benefit and pension plans.

And we’re not talking about corporate tax bills here, either; this is the Average Joe Taxpayer here. The study, done by the IRS, says this is all from underpayment, underreporting of income and just plain complete failure to file a return. Furthermore, those who don’t pay – yeah, some get chased down by the tax gestapo – just shift the burden to those of us who do.Frankly, the figure is just mind-blowing to us. You’d think the government wouldn’t be able to continue to operate like that. It’s amazing our aircraft carriers aren’t held together with duct tape and those rockets NASA sends into space don’t feature large logos emblazoned with “Fisher-Price.”Anyway, think about that while you’re trying to decide whether to itemize or just take that standard deduction.

***Thursday’s paraphrased Confucius is “the size of the heart of the three-legged dog is indirectly proportional to the speed of its walk.” Respond, extend or retort at, fax at (970) 668-0755 or just remind us we need to get outside more on the voicemail at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237.We’re out of our comfort zone, but the water is growing warmer to our toes …

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