Our Voice: Plan ahead for next year’s taxes, and keep plastic out of the ocean

Thumbs up

Extended deadline

To the Washington Health Exchange, which is extending its enrollment deadline by two months.

The special enrollment period ends April 17 and gives anyone who has not yet bought health insurance more time to figure out their finances.

Many people might not be aware of the tax penalties involved if they fail to enroll. When people file their taxes in early 2016, those who did not have health insurance in 2015 will have to pay a penalty of $325 per adult and $162.50 per child in their household. The family maximum penalty is $975 or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater.

Extending the deadline gives people more time to talk to their tax advisers, or crunch the numbers themselves before they file their taxes, so they can see the financial ramifications if they neglect to purchase health insurance.

There undoubtedly are people still not happy with the new health insurance requirements, but it is the law and there will be consequences for those who decide not to participate. Extending the deadline gives people more time to get on board, which is better than penalizing them next year.

Booming business

To the good news that retail trade sales in the Tri-Cities is going great.

Pasco saw the most growth, gaining 11 percent in total taxable retail sales of $267 million in the third quarter of 2014, compared with the same time the previous year. Richland’s total taxable retail sales grew by 5 percent to about $264.4 million and Kennewick is still at the top with $459.3 million in the third quarter of 2014, which is about the same as the third quarter from the year before.

Increased sales of new and used cars and trucks helped boost the economy, as did increased spending at Tri-City shops, hotels and restaurants. It’s always encouraging when business is bustling.

Thumbs Down

Ocean litter-bugs

To those polluting our oceans with plastics.

A new study from the University of Georgia showed that each year about 8.8 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans.

That’s deplorable.

The biggest polluters are mostly developing Asian countries, the report said, such as China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. If these nations don’t change their ways, it is predicted plastic trash in the oceans will reach about 170 million tons by 2025.

Researchers said the amount of plastic estimated going into the water is equal to how much tuna is fished each year, so we are taking out fish and puttig in plastic — not a healthy trade.

More pressure needs to be put on those countries that dump the most plastics in the ocean, as their negligence is affecting the entire planet.

And for those individual litter-bugs who don’t think tossing a plastic bottle in the ocean is a big deal, you’re wrong. It is a big deal and everyone must do their part to protect the environment. It is not hard to recycle if people simply would make the effort.