Thumbs up to West Richland liquor store, thumbs down to tribal leaders

No calculator required

Thumbs up to the West Richland liquor store for clearly posting the actual cost of its merchandise, including taxes.

Other retailers ought to take note. The widespread practice of subtracting taxes from posted liquor prices is a nuisance to customers.

Walking the walk

Thumbs up to Ralph and Cheryl Broetje, owners of Broetje Orchards, for leading by example.

The Broetjes were honored Thursday in Pasco with the Sam Volpentest Leadership Award during a reception for the incoming Leadership Tri-Cities class.

The recognition is well earned. Broetje Orchards, the largest employer in Walla Walla County, is a model of corporate social responsibility.

The farming operation donates 50 percent of its profits to good works, investing millions in affordable housing for low-income families in the Mid-Columbia.

The Vista Hermosa Foundation, created by the Broetje family, has donated more than $50 million to support rural and agricultural development, education and leadership training in developing countries in the last 20 years.

We'd be hard pressed to find a better example of "servant leadership."

Unequal odds

Thumbs down to Native American tribal leaders for wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

Some are calling on the federal government to regulate online gambling to ensure tribes are in the game without having their revenue taxed or sacrificing their sovereignty.

Regulations ought to ensure a level field where all the players can compete equally. That's precisely the opposite of what tribal leaders want from the feds.

Unless states that plan to allow internet gambling get the same tax breaks and other advantages that tribes enjoy as sovereign nations, then the field is already tilted in favor of Native Americans.

Dysfunctional as ever

Thumbs down to congressional leaders for their rush to kick the can down the road yet again.

House and Senate leaders last week were preparing a temporary spending deal that would postpone an actual federal budget at least for the first half of the next fiscal year.

It's better than letting the government shut down when the fiscal year ends Oct. 1 but is still a long way from the functioning government that Americans deserve and need.

Lack of oversight

Thumbs down to the Internal Revenue Service for apparently allowing scam artists to ripoff the rest of us for billions of dollars.

According to recent audit findings, identity thefts may cost the IRS $21 billion over next five years.

The IRS claims the estimate is too high. But even half the estimated thefts would amount to real money, even by government standards.

The problem becomes particularly alarming if you take a closer look at the shortcomings the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration identified in its report.

Auditors found that $8.1 million in potentially fraudulent tax refunds involved tax returns filed from just five addresses.

Someone filed more than 2,100 separate tax returns to a single address in Lansing, Mich., and received $3.3 million in fraudulent refunds.

In another case, the IRS deposited 590 refunds totaling more than $900,000 into one bank account.

It's unreasonable to expect the federal agency to catch every crook with a hand in our pockets, but the audit identifies examples of fraud that ought to have set off alarms.

Steps to flag such flagrant cases of fraud need to be in place before next tax season.