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Letters: Provide free tax help to Navajos

I am again relaying this message to the Navajo Nation government. It’s really time for the Navajo Nation to provide an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to the Navajo people.

For the last several years, I’ve participated in a VITA program every tax season for my employer. The VITA program is a service initiated by the IRS.

With the help of the IRS, volunteers are trained, obtain certification and the link to the IRS TaxSlayer software. Volunteers then prepare and process federal and state tax returns for clients. And the greatest thing about the service: the service is free.

This is an incredible service for the community I work for. Over the last several years, our little office has processed thousands of tax returns for community members and community employees. And our VITA service continues to grow each year both in the number of tax returns that we process and the amount of tax refunds clients get, with no fees assessed to the client. Last year, our office transmitted over 2,000 tax returns and over $3 million in refunds.

By providing this service, the community is saving its community members hundreds of dollars in servicing fees that a paid preparer charges. Even at a $100 fee per client, that’s a savings of $200,000. This is more money in the pocket of the VITA clients.

The interested entity does need to provide a few things like volunteers, computers, Internet service and space. But with the training and software, the volunteers can quickly process tax returns. New entities may need a little training on how to move the tax return from prepared, quality review, transmittal, and record keeping, but that gets quickly accomplished.

Now, it is true that this service is already being provided within the Navajo Nation, but not up to its full potential. If the Navajo Nation government and the respective enterprises pooled together, this series could be provided around the Navajo Nation and save the Diné thousands of dollars.

So I put it out there to the Navajo Nation government, from legislative to executive: Help your constituents out by working to provide this service on the Navajo Nation. Save the people’s money so that more of life’s necessities like food and gas can be purchased by your constituents.

With the ending of the 2019 tax season, there is a short turnaround this year for the 2020 tax season. Planning needs to start now, recruitment of volunteers, space for tax preparation needs to be secured and equipment like computer, printers and copiers need to be purchased or found so that the tax returns can be prepared, transmitted and printed.

Just a thought to the leaders of the Navajo Nation.

Mark C. Graham
Gilbert, Ariz.

Put a price on carbon pollution

As we mourn losses of family and community members, livelihoods, and our ability to gather due to COVID-19, we face another silent threat to our future — a warming, drying climate.

On Tuesday, Flagstaff City Council joined Tuba City, Cameron and Tolani Lake chapters to endorse The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763) — national legislation that will combat climate change by putting a price on the carbon pollution that drives it.

Worldwide, climate scientists and economists agree that pricing carbon pollution must be a part of solving climate change. HR 763 is a bipartisan, revenue neutral, and fair approach that reduces carbon pollution as it spurs innovation, creates new jobs, and protects America’s most vulnerable people with the dividend. It has 81 co-sponsors and growing public support nationwide.

It works by setting a small and steadily increasing fee paid on the carbon contained in fossil fuels at or near the mine, well, or U.S. border and returns the collected fees in equal shares to people as monthly dividends. Most low- to middle-income families will get more back in dividends than they’ll pay in increased energy costs.

Find out more and join the Arizona leaders urging Congress to price carbon pollution at citizensclimatelobby.org.

Shawn Newell
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Challenge Lake Powell Pipeline

Arizona should challenge the Lake Powell Pipeline because it could stop this unnecessary, wasteful, expensive, and destructive boondoggle.

As you know, Arizona heavily relies on Colorado River water, and, due to the drought contingency plan, some deliveries have been reduced and caused economic hardship. Despite this new reality, Utah politicians and the Bureau of Reclamation are pushing to approve the controversial LPP before President Trump may leave office in January.

Washington County, Utah, where I live, would receive the LPP water and it uses an average of 302 gallons per capita day. In contrast, Phoenix uses 111 and Tucson 122 gallons per capita day. The BOR recently released its biased LPP environmental statement that failed to analyze any water conservation alternatives.

The LPP may violate the Colorado River Compact by transferring upper basin water for a lower basin use. LPP construction and operation would also harm public lands and wildlife on the Arizona Strip. Arizona must issue state and county permits for the LPP to be built.

Arizona should not grant these LPP permits because the LPP may violate the compact, conservation alternatives were ignored, and its own water deliveries are being cut back. The BOR’s inadequate LPP environmental statement should not be used to allow Trump to approve the LPP.

Richard Spotts
St. George, Utah

Letters: The next pandemic — alcohol

It looks like another pandemic is looming around the corner on the Navajo Reservation. This time its location is in our backyard.

The dollar store in the St. Michaels area has submitted a request for a liquor license for liquor to be sold from their store. Just like the Bilagáanas, give them an inch and they take a mile. Obviously they are not familiar with the history of alcohol beverages in this area. It will be a pandemic. People will die, families will be destroyed, jobs will be lost, children will be exposed, and health issues will increase. I would like to say, “Yeah, let’s have another way to socialize and have fun.”

The reality is Native tribes have yet to figure out why alcohol is still a problem since its introduction to Native tribes. I would like to say “It’s OK because we have a cure now.” There is no cure and no new way of socializing. There is only destruction.

This situation is similar to the denial going on now with the pandemic. We can’t convince people to keep safe by wearing your mask, social distancing, stay home, wash hands, or you could die. How many more people have to die for people to wake up?

Same question to traders and consumers of alcohol. The only thing that seems to work to sober up people is the spiritual way of living, which is not easy. The most difficult is to surrender to a power greater than yourself. This kind of surrender is not weakness; it is strength and love of oneself, and that is a whole story in itself.

The idea of a dollar store is good; it’s progress to see these stores in our communities. Keep it that way. Alcohol doesn’t work for us and we can do without it.

Sharon Manuelito
Window Rock, Ariz.

Lizer, we are watching

Armchair general: One who speaks authoritatively on topics one actually knows little about.

I am writing in response to the Navajo Nation vice president Lizer’s interview with the Navajo Times today. I am writing as a Navajo/Diné woman and granddaughter of the late Paul Williams Sr. (Steamboat Chapter).

Shinálí hastiin was a life-long politician who served on tribal council and as chapter president for the community of Steamboat, Arizona.

Shinálí was respectful and cared for the needs of his constituents. He was knowledgeable about many things yet he consulted with elders and hataałi about what makes a good leader.

Shinálí focused on clean politics, transparency, and k’e. He listened to the people. He was an advocate and he was persistent in the role he played in the U.S. Supreme Court landmark case involving tribal sovereignty (Williams v. Lee, 1959).

Shinálí listened to his community members and accepted constructive criticism by all. Guess what? He did not engage in name-calling or refer to community members as “armchair generals” and he didn’t deflect when asked important questions about his personal agenda or political alliances.

Most importantly, shinálí did not engage in gaslighting or in the manipulation of the truth. Yes, the initial outrage was sparked by NNVP’s attendance at a Trump campaign rally and his disregard for COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols.

The reality is that the NNVP sends a contradictory message to our cheíís and másánís, who have been told they can’t attend gatherings, they can’t attend ceremonies, and they can’t interact with family or friends. The NNVP can continue to justify his actions but it is not acceptable to engage in such negative behaviors, blaming and name-calling.

The NNVP needs to remember the Navajo/Diné people voted for President Jonathan Nez and not Lizer’s personal Republican or business agenda. I am speaking on behalf of a number of Navajo/Diné elders who have contacted me with this sentiment: “Lizer can vote however he wants in his own booth, but for now he represents the majority … the Navajo/Diné people and his constituents.”

I believe it is important for the Navajo/Diné community to hold the NNVP accountable. We are a collective society, we are watching, and we will continue to voice our concerns.

Deidra Williams Angulo
Steamboat, Ariz.



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