BOISE – Tax-protesting former Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart denies he hid assets or income from a bankruptcy trustee and says the U.S. Justice Department attorney in his case is the one who made false statements.
“None of his allegations are true,” Hart said in bankruptcy court filings of Justice Department attorney Adam Strait.
Strait was one of two attorneys who weighed in on Hart’s bankruptcy, saying in filings that the former state legislator lied under oath, concealed or destroyed records, and hid income and assets.
Hart said in a declaration filed with the court, “It is Mr. Strait who is making false statements to the court, not me.” Strait said he couldn’t comment on the pending case.
The allegations about Hart’s actions from the Justice Department and the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee are significant because they suggest crimes could have been committed. The trustee, by law, is required to refer suspected crimes to the U.S. attorney for prosecution. Hart has faced no criminal charges in any of his tax fights thus far, just civil actions.
Hart defended his transfer of his Athol home to a trust, an arrangement the U.S. District Court called a “sham.” The Internal Revenue Service is seeking to foreclose on the log home for more than $500,000 in back federal income taxes, penalties and interest.
Hart also filed objections to the amount the IRS says he owes, calling it “trumped up” and “exaggerated.” The government responded that the issue already is being addressed in the U.S. District Court foreclosure case and that trying to address it in bankruptcy court is “forum shopping.”
Hart, who was defeated in the GOP primary in 2012 in his bid for a fifth term in the Idaho House, noted in his declaration that he stopped filing tax returns in 1995 while he pressed an unsuccessful lawsuit charging that the federal income tax is unconstitutional. He called that “a huge mistake.” Hart said he started filing again in 2003 and has paid $156,978 toward his back taxes.