Eye On Boise

IRS goes after Rep. Hart for big tax debt

Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, at his desk in the state Capitol in February, discussing tax legislation he'd introduced. (Betsy Russell)
Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, at his desk in the state Capitol in February, discussing tax legislation he'd introduced. (Betsy Russell)

The IRS has filed nearly $300,000 in new federal tax liens against Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart in the past year, five years after Hart said he'd reached an agreement to repay $90,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest. The new liens, filed in Kootenai County, cover the tax years from 1997 through 2003, plus 2006 and 2008. They are against anything Hart owns or has rights to, including real estate, cars, business accounts receivable and more; such liens go on credit reports and can keep a delinquent taxpayer from getting a loan, signing a lease or obtaining credit.

Hart said, "I will eventually get through this, so it's the motivation to get through it, I'll put it that way. It's like running on the beach where the water's up to your knees." But, he said, "I think it makes you a better legislator, to have these life experiences. ... You get first-hand dealings with the bureaucracy, see how they operate, see how they interpret things, experience the process."

House Speaker Lawerence Denney called Hart's continuing tax woes "kind of a distraction for us, but it's his personal thing." Denney said, "I think certainly he does have experience that most of us don't have and certainly don't want to have. ... It appears to me that the people up there love him." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, see the tax liens here, and read the 2000 U.S. Tax Court decision here in which a federal tax judge dismissed Hart's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the income tax.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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