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Tax Day in the U.S.

Aired April 17, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Carl, this is English class from South Korea.

SAM (PH): I am Sam (ph).

DUNONG (PH): I am Dunong (ph).

NISO (PH): I`m Niso (ph).

MIGNON (PH): I`m Mignon (ph), and I`m teaching English to these kids as a volunteer.

DALE (PH): I`m Dale (ph).

HANNAH (PH): I`m Hannah (ph).


GROUP: CNN Student News.


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: An introduction from halfway around the world -- awesome. Thank you to those students and thanks to all of you for spending part of your Tuesday with CNN Student News.

First up, today is the annual April deadline for Americans to file their taxes. All right. You hear about taxes all the time. There are different kinds of them, but they`re all basically fees that governments collect in order to pay for the goods and services that governments provide.


AZUZ (voice-over): Federal, state, local governments can set different taxes for different things. For example, most of you have probably paid a sales tax. That`s extra money you pay when you buy something. If you have a job and notice that your paycheck is less than you expected, that might be because of what was taken out for income taxes.

The federal government and most states charge a fee on the money people earn. That`s what today`s deadline is all about. Every year, people have to file their income tax returns, which lists what they earned and what taxes they`ve already paid. Normally, that has to be done by April 15th. That was a Sunday this year, so people were given an extra two days.


AZUZ: You might be wondering what the government uses tax money for or when all this started. That`s part of what Lizzie O`Leary is going to explain in this breakdown.


LIZZIE O`LEARY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you don`t pay your taxes, the IRS will eventually find you. We know a lot of people get hauled into court for their back taxes.

About one-fifth of it goes to defense. About one-fifth goes to Social Security. Another fifth goes to health care, and a little less than that goes to veterans.

We had an income tax during the Civil War. Then it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895. Then the income tax came back in 1913, and that sets up the modern income tax as we know it today.

One of the reasons that historians think we pay in the spring was at one point, taxes were levied, mostly on the rich, and the rich started to get out of town for the summer in the spring. So the government wanted to collect taxes in the spring before rich people skipped town.

We have a very complicated tax structure, and a lot of it has grown up because interest groups have asked for certain things as our tax laws have been rewritten. The last time it got a full rewrite was back in 1986. Ever since then, most lawmakers have been talking about how complicated the tax code is, but no one`s rewritten it.

There are all sorts of battles about the tax code. Some people have proposed flat taxes, a national sales tax, whether the rich should pay more in taxes. Probably the biggest battle is whether tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 should expire or be made permanent.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Mr. McConnell`s English class at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in Los Angeles, California. Riyadh is the capital of what country? You know what to do. Is it Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Oman? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia. It`s also the country`s most populated city. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.



AZUZ (voice-over): An area around that Middle Eastern capital was plunged into darkness last Friday by a massive sandstorm that hit Saudi Arabia. A CNN iReporter took this video of the storm. You can get a sense for how far it stretches.

The iReporter said he`s never seen a sandstorm this big before. Behind him -- you see it right there -- totally clear, but then there`s this giant cloud rushing forward on the other side. He said when the storm did finally reach where he was, it was a total blackout. He jumped in his car as the sand passed over, and said the vehicle shook for two straight minutes from the power of the storm.

Our next story takes us from Saudi Arabia up to Syria. We reported yesterday on renewed violence in that country after a temporary truce last Thursday. That was the deadline for a cease-fire and a peace plan put together by a United Nations representative.

U.N. observers are in Syria right now. They`re there to monitor the situation, see if a cease-fire can last. Yesterday both sides, government and opposition forces, reported fighting. The opposition said the government was launching attacks on Syrian cities. The government blamed the violence on armed terrorists, a claim it`s made many times.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? in baseball scoring, the letter K represents a strikeout.

Yep. A forward K means the batter struck out swinging. A backward one means the batter was called out on strikes.


AZUZ: Well, some Major Leaguers want to use their Ks to help strike out modern-day slavery. It`s part of a campaign called Free to Play, and you don`t have to be a pro to get involved. All you have to do is follow your favorite player`s stats. Mark McKay has more details on how this works.


MARK MCKAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spring is in the air, and baseball is back. But before these players get on the field, some are hoping to fight an off-the-field problem, helping children who have fallen victim to slavery and human trafficking.

JEREMY AFFELDT, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS PITCHER: This is an opportunity for us as ball players to join together as one unit as a team to come together and to support something that`s very, very important, especially for people who dream. And when kids get trafficked and some of that kills their dreams, we`ve been provided tons of opportunities to dream, that`s how we`ve accomplished our dream.

MCKAY: Jeremy Affeldt, the San Francisco Giants pitcher, is one of the most vocal athletes helping to fight slavery. Last year, for every strikeout he pitched, Affeldt donated $250 to Not for Sale`s Free to Play campaign, which funds athletic programs for children who have been trafficked or exploited.

Last year, Affeldt convinced his friend, Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals, to take up the cause. Now more than 17 players have joined the fight, from pitchers to position players, on at least nine different teams.

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT, ARIZONA DIAMONBACKS FIRST BASEMAN: To be honest, I didn`t even know it was an issue in the world. And glad that, you know, people are out there trying to help kids and people all over the world.

JOSH COLLMENTER, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS PITCHER: It`s definitely something that I wanted to make sure I did, was be able to give back to the community and be a role model and help out where you can.

MCKAY (voice-over): And it`s not just players who can help. Not for Sale has launched a Facebook app, allowing baseball fans to create their own fantasy team to raise money.

DAVE BATSTONE, FOUNDER, NOT FOR SALE: A fan can chose a team for their favorite team, their favorite player, their favorite stat and pledge 50 cents, a dime, it doesn`t matter what the money is, but they can participate. That`s going to raise this program to another level.

MCKAY (voice-over): Fans can donate based on any player`s achievements, even if that player is not himself pledging.

BATSTONE: It really creates this community around we love baseball and we`re going to use it in a way that I sure that all kids around the world are free to play.

MCKAY (voice-over): Mark McKay, CNN.


AZUZ: Speaking your mind came up last Wednesday, when we reported on controversial comments made by Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.


AZUZ (voice-over): Chris wrote, "In `A League of Their Own,` Tom Hanks said, `There`s no crying in baseball.` Evidently there`s no freedom of speech, either. The suspension is a pitiful attempt to avoid an economic boycott and sets a terrible precedent."

Jody says, "It`s one thing to speak your mind. It`s another to hurt someone`s feelings. It`s not illegal, but that doesn`t mean it`s right"

Ruben called Guillen`s comments "kinda disrespectful for the people who left Cuba for freedom in America. Plus Guillen`s a baseball manager. He shouldn`t be worried about Castro, but about his baseball team."

Alexus thinks, "People need to keep their comments to themselves. Even though it`s right to speak your mind, some things just can`t be said because it can come out the wrong way."

And from Amy, "You should say what you want. But when you`re in the public eye and say something that`s going to offend people, you should be prepared to have less people like you."


AZUZ: Before we go, I hope they have some extra wide spaces in the student parking lot, because these guys are going to need a little more room.


AZUZ (voice-over): It`s Auburndale, Wisconsin`s "Bring Your Tractor to School" Day. The tradition begins with a parade, then a stop at the local elementary school. It raises awareness about tractor safety, and lets the riders celebrate their region`s farming heritage. This is the fifth year for the event.


AZUZ: And it`s obviously able to "a-tractor" draw some attention. We`re pretty sure that next year you can expect a "reap-eat" performance, since this "farm" of fun is so popular. I planted this story on CNN`s education blog, "Schools of Thought," so you can "seed" it there. We plowed through all our time for today. We`ll put together another crop of headlines tomorrow. Whoo! CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.