Idaho Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, has unveiled sweeping legislation she plans to introduce to reform the state Tax Commission, shifting it from an agency run by four full-time political appointees to one run by a professional director with a part-time commission, and consolidating the revenue forecasting functions that now fall under the governor’s Division of Financial Management into the new agency, to be renamed the Department of Revenue and Taxation.
“It is high time to professionalize the Commission,” Jaquet said in her announcement; you can read it here. It says, “Jaquet said she decided to act when it became obvious that the current administration was not taking steps to address recent whistle blower allegations of favoritism and, in fact, seems perfectly comfortable with the status quo.”
She also calls for a full, outside forensic audit of the state Tax Commission and its operations, and a new process to determine whose taxes get audited “where the selection is blind, which will ensure that the process is fair for all Idaho taxpayers.” In her announcement, she makes note not only of the whistleblower allegations about secret deals with influential taxpayers, but of a major dispute between the current Tax Commission chairman, Royce Chigbrow, and the state’s elected county assessors over property tax issues.
Jaquet said, “The governor’s office and I have talked about this for the last couple years, and they may be working on something themselves, but I just wanted to get out there and say it’s time to do this.” The move of economic forecasting to the new department, she said, would help “keep politics out of revenue forecasting.” Jaquet, an eight-term state lawmaker, is the former House minority leader, a former member of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee and a current member of the joint budget committee; she is unopposed for re-election in November.