Eye On Boise

MONDAY, FEB. 9, 2009, 7:33 A.M.

Paying taxes is voluntary?

State Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow tells lawmakers that Idaho's tax system is based on
State Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow tells lawmakers that Idaho's tax system is based on "voluntary" payments, which bring in 95 percent of income tax payments, while just a small amount comes from audit and collections. However, he said the audit presence is what brings about the "voluntary" compliance. This year, the Tax Commission cut 58 year-round temporary positions due to budget holdback, potentially endangering $7.5 million in collections. Some of those have come back temporarily for the tax season. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Royce Chigbrow, chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning, "Our tax system depends on the voluntary cooperation of our citizens and businesses," and the Tax Commission has been working to "sustain the voluntary nature of the tax system." If this is surprising - perhaps you thought it wasn't "voluntary" as to whether you pay your taxes or not - Chigbrow said, "In the past fiscal year, voluntary payments totaled $3.39 billion, while another $200 million was brought in through audit and collection activities." He added, "To put it another way, 95 percent of the revenue over the years has been brought in through voluntary" payments.

The key to that, he told lawmakers, is "maintaining an adequate audit presence," saying, "Consider for a moment what would happen to voluntary collection if no one worried about being audited or no one was concerned about the accuracy of their returns. Obviously," he said, it is "essential" to keep "honest taxpayers' trust in the system," that "Those who don't pay their taxes or don't pay their fair share will be identified and pursued."

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.