January 23, 2009 in Idaho

Lawmakers steamed over tardy tax report

Document would detail secret tax deals with firms
Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers are losing patience with the state Tax Commission, which hasn’t filed a required report on secret tax deals for corporations.

A whistleblower alleged last year that the panel was cutting the deals to excuse millions in taxes for large corporate taxpayers.

“We’ve got to do something about this. It’s been five months,” Senate Tax Chairman Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow. “I really want to make it clear that on behalf of the people, we’re holding your feet to the fire on this.”

Gov. Butch Otter in August ordered the commission to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the deals, starting in January 2009 – but no report has been sent. Tax Commission attorney Ted Spangler said the report has been sitting on his desk for review, and he hasn’t gotten to it. “I will get that off my desk, Mr. Chairman,” he told Hill.

In May, longtime state tax auditor Stan Howland sent lawmakers, the governor and the attorney general a report charging that tax commissioners routinely excuse large sums in taxes owed by large, multistate corporations, and confidentiality laws prevent anyone from finding out about it.

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