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Posts tagged: Idaho Tax Commission

Embattled Tax Commissioner Quits

Idaho State Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow has resigned. In a hand-delivered resignation letter sent to Gov. Butch Otter, Chigbrow wrote, “Our system of taxation is not perfect, but I tried to do my best on behalf of every Idahoan during my tenure, while treating taxpayers with the respect, fairness and dignity they deserve. … Despite all of this I know there needs to be a change”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Hart Pays 2009 Income Tax Late

Item: Hart averts another tax fight: Lawmaker months late filing 2009 return/Betsy Z. Russell, SR

More Info: Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart narrowly avoided a court order over the holidays when he belatedly filed his 2009 state income tax return three days before Christmas. The Idaho State Tax Commission went to court in December for an order against Hart, saying he’d ignored repeated notices that his tax return was due. Returns are due by April 15.

Question: Any of you fail to pay your state income tax on time last year?

Idaho Tax Commission chair allegedly used position to help friend

The Associated Press reports that Idaho Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow allegedly tried to use his position to help a friend embroiled in a dispute with a former employer.

The allegations, revealed in emails and documents that the AP obtained under the Idaho Public Records Law, include that Chigbrow sought to provide his friend, Skip Hofferber, with confidential information about the firm's tax problems after the man had been fired from the company; ordered a forced tax collection against the firm; and then improperly handled two company cashier's checks totaling more than $30,000 that Hofferber gave Chigbrow at an Arid Club lunch - and that the firm later reported stolen. Read more.

Isn't it time for someone to express some shock and outrage?

Tax Commish Chair Aided Son’s Firm

The Associated Press reports today that public records it obtained under the Idaho Public Records Act show Idaho State Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow intervened on behalf of clients of his son’s accounting firm, over the objections of Tax Commission employees, bringing the clients significant breaks on their taxes. “The heavily redacted documents were among those collected by the Idaho attorney general’s office while representing the Tax Commission in a pending lawsuit that alleges commissioners have given politically connected taxpayers secret sweetheart deals for years,” reports AP reporter John Miller/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you surprised at this point that sweetheart deals seem to be regular fare at the Idaho Tax Commission?

Judge: Hart Case ‘Truly Remarkable’

In his quixotic battle to not pay state and federal income taxes, a North Idaho state legislator was clobbered by a windmill Wednesday. Rep. Phil Hart (R-Athol) lost his bid to forestall the Idaho Tax Commission from coming after $53,523 in state income tax he owes. One day after hearing arguments, 1st District Court Judge John Mitchell tossed Hart’s case out on its ear. “Hart’s [motion] lacks any cogent legal argument as to why this Court has jurisdiction,”  Mitchell writes in a tart, 13-page ruling. (pdf) Indeed, Mitchell goes on to say, “Instead of providing legal argument, Hart makes the following circular, wholly unsupported claim that this Court simply assume it has jurisdiction … (emphasis Mitchell’s)” The judge was not amused, and called Hart’s claims “truly remarkable.” But he didn’t mean it in a good way/Kevin Taylor, Inlander. More here.

Question: As the Riddler in the Batman movie would say, “Riddle me this …” How can Phil Hart be a member of the House Judiciary Committee and fail to file a tax appeal in a timely manner?

Hart Appeal Lacks ‘Cogent Argument’

Judge John Mitchell has granted a motion by the Idaho Tax Commission to dismiss an appeal by state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, re: back taxes owed because Hart didn’t file the motion in a timely matter. Hart owes more than $53,523 in income tax to the Idaho Tax Commission. Hart was in court in Coeur d’Alene Tuesday trying to appeal the state Board of Tax Appeals’ decision to reject his state income tax appeal. The state filed a motion to dismiss Hart’s appeal, arguing that the court has no jurisdiction to take an appeal because Hart missed the filing deadline, by many months, to file an administrative appeal. You can read the Mitchell’s decision here.

My favorite quote from ruling: “Appellant Hart’s Reply to Defendants’ 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss” lacks any cogent legal argument as to why this Court has jurisdiction. Instead of providing legal argument, Hart makes the following circular, wholly unsupported claim that this Court simply assume it has jurisdiction: (see Page 8 in link above for rest).

Question: Izzit just me, or did Judge Mitchell take Hart & his attorney, Starr Kelso, to the wood shed in his ruling?

TFTN: Investigate Tax Commission

It’s not just a couple of disgruntled Democrats anymore who want to know what the Idaho Tax Commission is up to. The 13,000-member Idaho Education Association and two other teachers’ groups last week joined state Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, and her attorney, Robert Huntley, in a lawsuit over secret tax deals at the commission. “We take the allegations very seriously,” John Rumel, general counsel for the Idaho Education Association, told the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. “The representative’s allegations indicate that because of some sweetheart deals and corrupt practices, a substantial amount of funds that should be going into the coffers of the state are not getting there.” Dubious compromise settlements are cutting into tax revenue for education, Rumel argues, in a year when state funding for schools is down 7.5 percent/Twin Falls Times-News Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Should the Idaho Tax Commission be investigated for possible sweetheart deals with industry that may be costing the state millions in tax revenue?

Hart To Fight $53,523 In Idaho Taxes

Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart is going to court over his back state income taxes, filing an appeal in 1st District Court in Kootenai County charging that Idaho’s state income tax is unconstitutional. Today, the state of Idaho filed a motion to dismiss the appeal; the court set a Dec. 7 hearing on the motion. Hart’s seven-page appeal raises an array of issues, including whether Idaho’s state income tax “as a graduated tax, fails the uniformity requirement” of Idaho’s state Constitution; and whether the state Board of Tax Appeals, in Hart’s case, “upheld the sanctity” of Idaho’s constitutional privilege protecting state legislators from civil action during legislative sessions/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Pumpkingate Attention Boosts Sales

News of the tax commission’s actions tripled business at the Normal Hill stand, Kami Charais said. The Charais’ took in about $603 from sales of the Halloween staple, compared with the $200 family members were seeking to pay for Jacob and Sami-Lou’s wrestling and dance programs. The family also got a temporary seller’s permit from Nez Perce County and another permit from the state. When all is said and done, the couple plans on turning about $36 over to the tax commission. “It was never my intention to tax-evade, and I guess ignorance of the law is no excuse to evade the law,” Kami Charais said/Elaine Thompson, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (Lewiston Tribune/AP photo: Kyle Mills)

Question: Is this one of those times when a bureaucrat is pennywise & pound foolish — in other words, they’re following the letter of the law but eschewing common sense?

Phil Hart Tells His Side Of The Story

On his Twitter account moments ago, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, provided a link to 5 YouTube videos that “tells his side of the story and clarifies misleading articles in the press.” The video below is the first of that series. You can see the rest of the series here.


Pumpkingate Mom Tells Family Side

The stand, which she said is not actually roadside but rather only around the front of the family’s home, had mediocre success until a reporter from from a local television station, KLEW,  stopped by to set up a time later in the week to profile the stand for a human interest piece.  Charais said the family contacted the supplier of the pumpkins, a family friend, to ask for a few more gourds to provide a better image for the cameras.  The story, which can be seen here, showed up on KLEW’s website Oct 19. A week later an unnamed staffer from the Idaho State Tax Commission stopped by the house. Charais said she asked the staffer, who didn’t identify herself in initial contact, if she had seen the news story and if she wanted to buy a pumpkin.  The mother said the staffer replied, “‘Do you know you’re running an illegal operation here?’”/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.

  • Cutline: Jacob Charais, 6, and his little sister Sami-Lou, 4, sit in front of their pumpkin stand at their home in Lewiston on Friday. (Lewiston Tribune/AP Photo: Kyle Mills)


In Idaho, Really Little People Pay Taxes

In his editorial today, Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune defends the tax revenuer who created a nationwide stir by insisting that a couple of kids selling pumpkins to raise money for sports. Marty opines: “Gilmore’s getting a bad rap on this story. She didn’t shut down the business. Never even hinted at it. The children weren’t at home when she stopped by. Nor was she being selective. People who engage in farmers markets, roadside produce stands and flea markets are obligated to get a license and collect sales tax.” Then, Marty goes on to say it’s strange that Idaho cracks down on kids when it looks the other way on bigger tax cheats: multi-state corporations, special interests, Internet & catalogue sales, tax scofflaws, and, of course, our own Phil Hart: “The Republican representative from Athol has made a mockery of state and federal tax laws.” More here.

Question: In other parts of the state, Rep. Phil Hart’s name has become synonymous with tax cheat/timber thief. Why are local Republicans so tone deaf to such an outcry?

Tax Revenuers Bust Pumpkin Stand

Jacob Charais, 6, and his little sister Sami-Lou, 4, sit in front of their pumpkin stand at their home in Lewiston on Friday.  The Idaho State Tax Commission wants them  to close their pumpkin stand at their family home.  Their parents, Dan amd Kami Charais, were contacted by a tax commission representative and told to stop selling pumpkins. Original Hucks post here. And: Full Lewiston Tribune story here. (Lewiston Tribune photo: Kyle Mills)

Question: What do you think the Idaho Tax Commission will do about the outrageous conduct of its reps in this situation, now that the public has found out about it?

Trib: Tax Deals Cost Idaho $40M/Year

Since 2008, eight former and current auditors within the Idaho State Tax Commission have publicly accused their bosses, the political appointees on the tax commission, of cutting sweetheart deals with big corporations. The confidential deals have the corporations paying pennies on the dollar, the auditors say. And now it’s nine. On Oct. 3, Douglas Thornton of Lewiston, who spent 27 years with the commission before retiring, had this to say in a letter to the Lewiston Tribune: “A conservative estimate would be that these deals cost the state $40 million per year,” he wrote. “Why are the taxpayers and voters of this state not outraged that politicians have covered this up? Why have your elected officials not weighed in on this issue? Is it just apathy?”/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Why aren’t Idahoans outraged that the sweetheart deals cut by the Idaho State Tax Commission with corporations costing the state $40M in revenues per year?

Hart Faces Nearly $300K In New Liens

The Internal Revenue Service has filed another nearly $300,000 in tax liens against Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, bringing the total that public records show Hart owes in back taxes, interest and penalties to nearly a million dollars. The IRS filed two liens for $292,935 against Hart on Wednesday in Kootenai County, both targeting Hart as a nominee for the trust that owns his Athol home. All are for individual income taxes, penalties and interest from the tax years 1997 through 2003, plus 2006 and 2008. In addition, on Sept. 7, the federal tax agency filed another $3,906.86 in liens against the trust that owns Hart’s North Idaho engineering firm; those liens were for withholding taxes and corporate income taxes/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

  • Originally posted 5:40 Friday, Oct. 1

Question: Any thoughts on the growing amount that Phil Hart owes to the IRS/Idaho Tax Commission, which now totals nearly $1M?

Edit: Tax Commission’s Credibility Gap

When one whistleblower complains, it’s a little easier to write it off as the act of a disgruntled worker. When a legislator takes up the cause and files a lawsuit, it’s a little easier to dismiss the move as political posturing. But what does it mean when the roster of whistleblowers continues to grow? It means, in the case of the State Tax Commission, that a serious credibility gap keeps right on growing. This is the agency that is supposed to collect tax dollars from people or businesses that won’t pay up. Idahoans should be able to trust the commission to pursue tax cheats without playing favorites - not just to collect dollars for schools and other needed state services, but to make sure everybody pays their fair share. That’s how it should work, anyway. But eight current or former employees have signed affidavits in a lawsuit against the commission, The Times-News in Twin Falls reported last week/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman editorial. More here.

Question: Does Idaho’s Tax Commission have a credibility problem?

Phil Hart Stands By His Cause

Item: Hart: A taxing adventure: Legislator’s ordeal has left him confident that income tax is unconstitutional/Alecia Warren, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: Speaking to the crowd of fellow Republicans in the Garden Plaza senior living facility in Post Falls, Hart discussed the birth of his income tax suspicions and the long road to his current litigation with the IRS and the recent House Ethics Committee investigation. If anything, he has only come out more confident that income tax is unconstitutional, he said.

Question: You have to give Hart credit for chutzpah, hunh?

EOB: Hart to testify to ethics committee

The House Ethics Committee has released its agenda for its Thursday meeting regarding Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol; you can see it here. Hart is scheduled to testify. More here/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise

EOB: Hart cast deciding votes on tax rules

Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, who has big tax disputes pending over back state and federal income taxes, sat on a three-member legislative subcommittee this year that reviewed new state tax rules for all Idaho taxpayers, and he cast the deciding vote on two of them. Those included a new rule for how the state Tax Commission should handle settlements of more than $50,000 in income tax liability - at a time when Hart was facing an order to pay $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest. Hart never mentioned his case or declared a conflict of interest. More here/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise

Hart Looks Forward To Being ‘Cleared’

On Twitter, embattled Idaho Rep. Phil Hart has just posted this comment, plus 2 documents: “I thought it would be beneficial for anyone who so chooses, to be able to see the actual documents surrounding the House Ethics Committee and the alleged abuse of my legislative office. The charges are vague and frankly so vague they are difficult to answer. You can see both documents below. I stand firm that I never abused any privilege available to me as an Idaho Representative and I look forward to a thorough investigation and being cleared of these charges.”


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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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