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I sat down to look at my new state tax forms this year, since I wanted to see the disaster created by the veto of the state tax conformity bill last year. So I opened up the basic Minnesota Income Tax form M1. It didn’t look so bad — it appeared to be the normal form, with only 33 lines to fill out. After entering federal AGI (adjusted gross income) on Line 1 of the M1, I just had to fill out form M1NC to complete Line 2 of the M1 form. So I looked at M1NC, and half of that form was blacked out and I had 38 additional lines to fill out — but wait, there’s more: On Line 36 of that form, it looked like I was required to fill out the M1M form, which is another 42 lines long!

So, whew, that was 38+42 = 80 lines of tax forms, to finally be done with Line 2 on the main form M1.

Line 3 (on the M1) is just basic addition of Lines 1 and Line 2 — that was easy. Line 4 of the M1 required me to fill out my itemized deductions for the state; that’s another large tax form, M1SA, which is another 30 lines long.

This is the consequence of the failure to conform to the federal tax system — 110 additional lines in your taxes this year.

We still have time — most Minnesotans don’t start doing their taxes until at least February. State legislators and Gov. Tim Walz, please make this issue of state tax conformity a priority and solve it within the next couple of weeks; it will save every adult in this state from the headache of 110 unnecessary lines in three illogical tax forms when doing their state taxes this year.

Jeff Asmussen, Bloomington

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Our state’s leaders should be ashamed. As a former tax preparer, I just finished my own tax return, and am appalled at what confusion taxpayers will face because those in our own state couldn’t do their job by adopting federal tax changes in time for preparing 2018 tax returns.

Imagine the rest of us working a normal eight-hour job and not accomplishing anything meaningful for the first six or seven hours, then rushing to get work done at the end of the workday, leaving what isn’t accomplished to go undone. I expect we wouldn’t and shouldn’t have that job for long.

This seems to be the norm for our legislators. They were hired to do a job, and it is reasonable that they are held to the same standard as the rest of us.

Roger Hanson, Stewartville, Minn.

PAID LEAVE

What small businesses know that the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t

I’m a small-business owner in St. Paul, and I’m writing in response to “Paid family leave bill gets push” (Jan. 23).

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce statement that “employers know best how to offer benefits for employees” is simply not true. Small businesses like mine cannot offer 12 weeks of leave, or take it ourselves in the event of a medical issues.

My partner and I own and run a martial-arts school. If one or both of us were injured or became seriously ill for an extended period, the chances are good that we would have to close our business after 13 years. We would lose our livelihood, and this neighborhood would lose a business with a strong community focus and a mission to make what we do available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

A payroll tax that would mean I pay a small amount into a fund that could help to insure against the loss of my business in case of a serious medical issue is a tax I would willingly pay. More important, even if it never directly benefits me, it’s a benefit to my community to ensure that every worker has paid leave when they have or adopt a child or in the event of a serious medical condition. No one should have to choose between their health, their families, or their safety and their jobs.

I encourage my legislators to listen to small businesses and pass Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance legislation.

Nicki Jones, St. Paul

LAW ENFORCEMENT

There’s good and bad news when it comes to racial equality

The article about school resource officers on the front page of the Jan. 24 Minnesota section, (“Enforcing laws, building rapport”) was a wonderful read. In particular, some of the quotes from the students stood out. For example, from one at Minneapolis Roosevelt High School: “You would expect her to be rude like the other ones. [But] she’s the reason why I come back to school.” She was referring to Officer Drea Leal. At a time when the relationship between law enforcement and the community, especially the nonwhite community, is coming under intense and necessary scrutiny, we should all be thankful that officers such as Leal are on the job.

Yet two pages later in that same day’s paper, a headline blares: “Data: Police pull over black drivers more.” The statistics cited in the article match the mountains of anecdotal evidence that police routinely do not apply the law equally to all when they decide who to stop for a driving violation, and also in how the traffic stop is conducted. The evidence is clear: Despite the great example of how Officer Leal does her job, our city and society are in desperate need for immediate law enforcement reform, and sadly I feel it’s likely that without complete systemic reform of law enforcement and the way the judicial system treats those who are impacted by it, interactions with officers such as Leal will be the exception rather than the rule for marginalized communities.

Nathan Coles, Minneapolis

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

Independent voters are threatened if choice of party is made public

In Minnesota, the Legislature recently voted to move from a party presidential caucus to a presidential primary in 2020. Good move. However, the parties are demanding that it be made a matter of public record which ballot (Democratic Party or Republican Party) each individual voter requests, claiming, according to DFL Chair Ken Martin “... we need that information to comply with national party rules and to help party-building activities.”

Excuse me? What national party “rules”? And what gives the parties the right to use our state tax dollars to help them with their business of party-building?

As we know, Minnesota has nonpartisan voter registration with open primaries. Voters don’t affiliate with a party in order to cast their ballots in any election. The primary ballot a voter selects is not made public. Secretary of State Steve Simon has been searching for a compromise on how to handle the presidential primaries.

Clearly the state can certify the election results and demonstrate who voted in the primaries and how many votes were cast in each party primary for each candidate. To provide any information beyond that amounts to the state using taxpayer dollars to assist in the party-building efforts of two private organizations.

As Peter Callaghan put it in a Jan. 4 article at MinnPost, “Minnesota voters who don’t like revealing which party they support will have two choices when the state shifts to a statewide presidential preference primary in 2020: they can surrender those concerns; or they cannot vote.” That approach will surely have a chilling effect on voter turnout.

Recent conversations with local state senators and representatives and with the secretary of state’s office showed they were receptive to the concerns of independents.

Independents call on the national parties, the state parties and the secretary of state to come together and protect the full voting rights of Minnesota voters, including our right to cast a secret ballot.

Ann Fryberger, Duluth

The writer is a member of the IndependentVoting.org’s national network.