Eye On Boise

Talk by Tax Commish whistle-blower draws lawmakers from both parties

State Tax Commission whistle-blower Stan Howland addresses lawmakers and others on Tuesday, at a talk in a Senate hearing room. Howland, a former longtime state tax auditor, said changes are needed to stop improper secret deals with influential taxpayers. (Betsy Russell)
State Tax Commission whistle-blower Stan Howland addresses lawmakers and others on Tuesday, at a talk in a Senate hearing room. Howland, a former longtime state tax auditor, said changes are needed to stop improper secret deals with influential taxpayers. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho State Tax Commission whistle-blower Stan Howland is now speaking in the Senate flex room, room WW17 in the Senate wing, on the lower level of the state Capitol. At least half a dozen legislators, from both parties, are among those in the audience. "Auditors are not against compromising taxes," Howland told the group. "What we are concerned about is the legality of them, the process, and how often they should be used. ... The Tax Commission currently does not have sufficient internal controls."

Howland estimated that Idaho could lose $50 million to $100 million in state tax revenues in 2011 due to secret compromise deals, plus another $20 million to $30 million a year in future years. "It could be more," he said. At the conclusion of his talk, he'll take questions from lawmakers and others.

Howland detailed a list of changes he said are needed in Idaho's tax-settlement process to end improper secret settlements, from less secrecy to restoring restrictions on when cases can be settled, rather than leaving that to the tax commissioners' discretion. "The fact is, folks, that the Tax Commission is broken," he said. "You can't remove that commissioner and cure this problem, because unless you change the law, this problem will rear its head again."




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Betsy Z. Russell





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