THREE Saturdays ago, my car needed a wash so I decided to seek out one of the many groups that I knew would be having a carwash fundraising event. I found one such event at an establishment in East Agaña and pulled in.
As I turned off my vehicle and was getting out of the car, at least eight individuals converged and began washing. As most of us would normally do when entering into a gathering, I looked around for someone who looked familiar and saw an old friend with whom I used to work in the police department.
After exchanging pleasantries, I asked my friend about the price for the carwash and what the fundraising event was for.
He told me that the cost of the wash was by donation and that the Castro family was doing it to raise money to deal with medical expenses. I was then introduced to a gentleman who informed me that his wife was recently diagnosed with cancer and the family was having the carwash to help pay for the treatment she direly needed. And then Mr. Castro said, “Senator, if we could only get our tax returns, that money will really help us with my wife’s cancer treatment. Can we please get our money?”
As one of 15 individuals on this island who is being looked upon to decide the fate of this answer, Mr. Castro’s question hit me like a ton of bricks. I believe that I can confidently speak for every member of the Legislature in saying that every individual who is owed a tax return should receive it. Where apparently our differences lie is in when it can be done.
As of this writing, the Legislature is in discussion on the governor’s bond proposal that includes all the funding necessary to pay out all “A” status tax returns, or all returns deemed ready to be paid. While some of my colleagues feel that the current and potential financial situation of our government is not conducive to going to the bond market now to get the money needed to pay out all the returns, I do.
I’m not going to deny that the discussions taking place at the national level on the need to reduce our nation’s debt should surely be considered while making budget and borrowing decisions on Guam. Nor am I going to neglect the fact that our government has been spending more than it has been taking in. But I believe the practice of keeping tax returns from the people and not paying it in a timely manner has got to stop, now.
If you’re late in paying for your utilities, or cannot make a payment for your hospital bill, our government has the ability to disconnect your power or garnish your wages. Our government can also assess hefty penalties if you’re delinquent or refuse to pay your taxes. But what is it Mrs. Castro needs to do to get what the government owes her?
The decision on when and who should be paid their tax return should not be one we make. And the way for us to get to that point is to pay our people back what many have been waiting years for. How this gets paid is what our people should expect us to work towards and decide on. And we can start with a combined and concerted effort to go after the money that is owed to the government of Guam.