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Posts tagged: IRS

Hart: My Constituents Back Me Anyway

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Hart said the constitutional immunity from arrest and civil procedures during a legislative session is intended to be a benefit to the public, not to lawmakers.”It allows legislators to focus on the work of their constituents and not get bogged down with other distractions,” he said. “It’s not a privilege for legislators, but a protection for constituents.”Regarding his position on the tax committee, he said, “the reason we have 105 lawmakers is that we want a variety of opinions. I think I bring a point of view to that committee that’s unique. My constituents know my point of view and choose to send me there.”Hart said he was surprised his battle with the tax commission prompted an ethics complaint. Nevertheless, he plans to cooperate with the investigation and respond to whatever specific charges are raised/William L. Spence, Lewiston Tribune

Question: Would Hart be in trouble re: re-election this year, if the Democrats had fielded a candidate to run against him. Or is Hart right in saying, “My constituents know my point of view and choose to see me (to the Legislature)?”

Hart Files Response To Ethics Charges

Phil Hart filed this response with the House Ethics Committee, meeting to discuss his continuing income tax problems: “I want you to know that this part of the process of governance does not minimize the passion I have to serve the people of the 3rd legislative district. I sought this office because I wanted to be in a position to protect our constitutional rights and the liberties of the people. I am seeking re-election now because, with my six years of experience, I feel I can be more effective in attaining those lofty goals. American patriots fight for what is right in the country and reject is what is wrong with the country. This battle for me is no less than fighting for what is right and just in the legislative arena and in the state that I have grown to love. This battle for what is right gives me the opportunity to tell an American story. And tell that story I will.” More from Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise here.

  • Cutline: House Ethics Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, left, visits with committee members Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, and Bill Killen, D-Boise. (Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise photo)
  • Hart response: You can read Hart’s response in full here.

Question: Satisfied with the response?

Ethics Panel To Discuss Hart Tuesday

The newly appointed House Ethics Committee investigating the conduct of Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has scheduled a conference call meeting for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6th. For those participating in person, the meeting will take place in the House State Affairs committee room, East Wing Room 40 in the lower level of the state Capitol/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. (Also: a list of the 7 ethics committee members here.)

Question: Are you bothered that none of the 4 Republicans on the ethics panel is from North Idaho or even the Idaho Panhandle?

Hammes: Phil Hart Abused His Power

Phil Hart (pictured) should resign from the Idaho legislature. Of course we know that is not going to happen. But at the very least he should offer a substitute to serve in his place until he has paid his state tax bill in full. That won’t happen either. Instead Rep. Hart will continue to serve in the legislature despite the fact he owes the state a bundle in overdue taxes. Which makes this screed as fruitless as n well, fighting the government with some bogus claims about the Constitution and income taxes. … There is never a shortage of wingnuts who confuse their disagreement with the income tax with patriotism. But it is quite another thing altogether for an elected official to abuse the power of office/Dan Hammes, St. Maries Gazette-Record. More here.

Question: What do you make of one of the most conservative newspapers in Idaho calling on state Rep. Phil Hart to resign, as a result of his tax problems?

Hart Late On Property Taxes Since 2002

Idaho State Rep. Phil Hart, who’s currently facing a House ethics review over his ongoing fight over unpaid federal and state income taxes, has paid his property taxes late on his Kootenai County home every year since 2002 and had to pay hundreds in interest and penalties. Tax records kept by the Kootenai County Treasurer’s Office show that Hart currently owes $1,011.23 for the 2009 taxes on the home, plus $55.04 in interest and $18.74 in penalties. Over the past eight years, he’s been as much as 16 months late on the property taxes on the home, and has paid $1,527.05 in interest and $325.64 in penalties and fees/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: What do you think? Now that he’s dating a future Kootenai County commissioner, Jai Nelson, who will be responsible for divvying up the county’s share of property taxes, will Hart become more prompt in paying his property taxes?

Statesman: Hart Besmirches Legislature

These antics reflect badly on Hart, and besmirch Idaho’s citizens’ Legislature. In an age of viral cynicism about politics and politicians, Hart’s conduct suggests that public servants are out first to serve themselves. So if ever an elected official has invited the harsh glare of an ethics review, it’s Hart. House Speaker Lawerence Denney said late last week that he would convene an ethics committee. … The allegations against Hart - conflict of interest and possible abuse of his elected position - deserve a thorough, public review. Both the outcome and the process will say something, good or bad, about the Legislature/Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you expect something positive to happen when the ethics committee reviews Hart’s tax problems?

Phil Hart: Fighting IRS Is Taxing Process

In 2004 I filed 1040 returns to get caught up. Suddenly I found myself in an IRS audit. I had to sue the IRS to avoid turning over the names and addresses of those who purchased my book, “Constitutional Income.” I was represented by the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington, D.C., public interest, freedom of speech law firm. The Center for Individual Rights won these lawsuits for me. The IRS audit report denied all my legitimate business deductions totaling $300,000. Why? An IRS employee told me “When you don’t give us everything we ask for, you get all of your deductions denied.” For them, this isn’t about the liens or the money; it’s about getting the names/Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.

Question: Do you think Rep. Phil Hart makes good points re: his long fight against the Internal Revenue Service?

SR: Hart Should Use ‘Common Sense’

Last Oct. 2, when Hart got word of his $53,000 obligation, he had 91 days – until the new year – to appeal. The deadline arrived “during the ten days next before the commencement” of the 2010 Legislature, so he waited until the session was over to submit his notice of appeal. The commission wants that appeal dismissed on grounds that not only did Hart miss the deadline, he failed to submit the full deposit required to be paid at the time of appeal. This is the fourth time Hart has invoked the legislative exemption during his six years in office. A strict reading of the Idaho Constitution may secure his right to do so. But for an elected official interested in maintaining his status as a citizen legislator, common sense would argue against it/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: What should Phil Hart do?

EOB: Hart Welcomes Ethics Investigation

Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart on Friday defended his long tax fight against the IRS and the state Tax Commission, and said he looks forward to telling his tale to a House ethics committee.    ”I would welcome the opportunity to tell my story,” said Hart, R-Athol, a third-term state lawmaker who’s unopposed for re-election in November/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Hart Defends His ‘Brilliant’ Work

Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, in his first public comment since House Speaker Lawerence Denney said yesterday he’d appoint an ethics committee to investigate Hart’s conduct, sent a guest opinion to newspapers this afternoon defending his fight against income taxes, but making no mention of his use of legislative privilege in his fight, his service on the House Revenue & Taxation Committee while he pressed his fight, or the pending ethics action, which is aimed at those two matters. Hart’s op-ed piece (click below to read it in full) focuses on his legal challenge to the federal income tax, including a quote from a lawyer who he said called his challenge “brilliant legal work;” his subsequent problems with an IRS audit; and his concerns about revealing the names of those who bought his book, “Constitutional Income”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here

Question: What do you make of this latest development?

Press: Hart Should Step Aside For Now

But Rep. Hart has become increasingly ensnared in a web of his own making. A member of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, Hart is paying dearly for first, his defiance of the tax structure, and second, his negligence in appropriately addressing the first shortcoming. In the stories pouring out of newspapers about Hart’s tax liabilities and snail’s pace in remedying them, one essential element is missing: remorse. Nowhere does one sense that Hart is sorry he’s let down the tens of thousands of diligent taxpaying citizens he represents - many of whom don’t like the tax structure any more than he does - or the 1.6 million Idahoans who are smeared by his reluctance to share the American burden while living the American dream/Mike Patrick, Coeur d’Alene Press. More here.

Question: Mike Patrick goes on to opine that Hart should take a leave of absence from the Idaho Legislature until he pays his tax debt to the IRS and state of Idaho in full. Is that the right remedy for this situation?

Idaho Ethics Panels Are Rare

The last time the Idaho House convened an ethics committee was in 2003, when then-Speaker Bruce Newcomb called for the committee to investigate himself for holding a closed meeting with a quorum of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee; the panel cleared Newcomb of any wrongdoing. In 2005, the Idaho Senate convened an ethics committee that censured then-Sen. Jack Noble after he introduced legislation that would have made his own convenience store eligible for a state liquor license, though it’s across the street from an elementary school, without disclosing his personal stake in the issue, and then lied about it to the Ethics Committee/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Rusche Seeks Ethics Hearing On Hart

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, pictured, has filed a formal request for the Speaker of the House to convene an ethics committee to look into two issues regarding Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol: Hart’s invoking of legislative privilege from civil process in his personal tax disputes over income taxes with the IRS and the Idaho State Tax Commission; and Hart’s service on the House Revenue & Taxation Committee while pressing his own case in a state tax appeal that Idaho’s income tax is unconstitutional. “Does he have a conflict, if he’s trying to set aside tax law through his personal suit while at the same time he’s sitting on the committee making tax law for everybody?” Rusche asked. He also questioned whether “by invoking the privilege in the manner he has, is that abusing the privilege of a legislator”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you comfortable that an ethics panel of 4 R’s & 3 D’s will eschew politics in favor of truth as they look into Hart’s tax woes?

HBO Poll: Rep. Hart Is A Tax Dodger

  • Tuesday Poll: 173 of 226 respondents (77%) said Rep. Phil Hart, who says income taxes are unconstitutional and owes $400,000 in federal and state taxes, is a tax dodger who hides behind principles. 46 of 226 respondents (20%) say he’s a principled man. 7 of 226 respondents (3%) were undecided.
  • Today’s Poll: Should House Speaker Lawerence Denney call for an ethics probe into Rep. Phil Hart’s tax problems?

Hart Has Used Session To Hold Off Taxes 4X

Here’s a link to Betsy Russell’s full story today re: how Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has used the legislative session to hold off the tax man four times in the six years he’s served as a state lawmaker, starting his first year in office; and here’s a link to a letter from a Spokane attorney that Hart submitted to the state Board of Tax Appeals to bolster his case. Washington has a very similar legislative privilege clause in its state constitution to the one that Hart cites in Idaho’s constitution, but Hugh Spitzer, who teaches state constitutional law at the University of Washington School of Law, said he hasn’t heard of lawmakers invoking it in similar situations.

Question: What bugs you more — that Rep. Phil Hart owes the IRS about $350,000 in back taxes? Or that he owes Idaho $53,000 in back taxes?

Stapilus: Why Hart’s Tax Problems Matter

The story this last week about state Representative Phil Hart, R-Athol, being slapped with $300,000 in tax liens (from 1997-2003 and two more recent years) almost slipped by – people get into financial arrears, on a basic level there’s nothing shocking there – except for a few points that should be noted before this slips away. One is that Hart is quite influential among very conservative Republicans; in the Panhandle, he’s among the must-get endorsements if you’re running with Tea Party and other very ideological conservatives. He has become influential enough that he was a key lever behind the ouster of incumbent Republican Senator Mike Jorgenson, from his district, by Steve Vick; the extent of Hart’s involvement has been a matter of some dispute, but he apparently recruited Vick to run/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press. More here.

Question: Does Rep. Phil Hart’s tax problems matter to his followers?

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About this blog

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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