Idaho could save $200,000 a year by no longer using certified mail to send two types of deficiency notices to delinquent taxpayers, and instead using first-class mail. The reason: 35 percent of certified mail is returned, simply because folks don't bother to pick it up. Today, Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, urged the House to support HB 362, legislation from the state Tax Commission to try first-class mail instead for a year, to see how it works; the Tax Commission would report back to lawmakers after a year on the results. “Changing to first-class mail would result in more taxpayers actually receiving the notices,” Barbieri told the House. “It' is much more cost-efficient. It's good legislation.”
Rep. Lynn Luker R-Boise, said he worried about who would have the burden of proof if a delinquent taxpayer claimed he hadn't received the notice; Barbieri said Tax Commission rules require two personal phone calls to the taxpayer as well as the mailed notice. “There are safeguards in the procedure,” he said, but Luker responded, “I'm concerned about this ability to prove who sent what when and who got it.”
House Rev & Tax Chairman Dennis Lake noted that the bill is just to try the different procedure for a year. “We thought, take a look at it, because of the savings and because people simply don't bother to pick up that certified mail,” he said, and “claim they don't have notice.”
The bill then passed the House on a 60-8 vote; among those voting “no” was Barbieri's fellow District 3 lawmaker, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who currently has an appeal of past-due state income taxes pending before the Idaho Supreme Court. The other “no” votes were Reps. Loertscher, Shepherd, Andrus, Marriott, Patrick, McMillan and Barrett; the bill now moves to the Senate side.