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tories abound related to Commissioner Chigbrow’s habit of using his position to favor some, and intimidate others. In fact, he was officially investigated over several months on suspicion of failing to appropriately deposit checks from a taxpayer. The allegations included his providing confidential information to a friend and receiving stolen checks totaling more than $30,000. As luck would have it, Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower announced he won’t prosecute despite evidence of wrongdoing because a statute of limitations expired on one complaint. He found evidence on other complaints insufficient to prosecute. Prosecutor Bower received the complaint before the statute of limitations ran out. His investigation extended beyond the deadline. Surely he was aware of timelines/Rep. Shirley Ringo, Idaho Democratic Party. More here.
Question: Did Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower blow it by not prosecuting former Tax Commissioner Royce Chigbrow?
Idaho's newest state tax commissioner, longtime CPA and prominent Republican Rich Jackson, says he's going above and beyond legal requirements to step away from professional and political involvements as he moves into his new role. Among the positions he's resigning: He's withdrawing from his CPA partnership, Jackson and Coles in Boise, and said he'll recuse himself from any issues involving former clients, partners or employees of the firm. He's resigning as chairman of the Idaho Legislative Compensation Committee, treasurer of the Boise Metro Chamber PAC, a member of the Idaho Manufactured Housing Board, and treasurer of the Idaho House of Representatives Republican Caucus.
“How can a tax commissioner write checks and make decisions on who gets political funds and really be independent? Even if it's not there, it's implied,” Jackson said. “I just didn't even want to embarrass the governor or the Tax Commission or anybody, so I stepped aside.” He added, “I'm trying to be very methodical and complete, and if I miss something I'm going to fix it. … These economic times are too tough, and I'm fully aware of all the criticism.”
The Tax Commission has come in for much criticism in recent years, from whistleblowers' allegations that it was cutting secret deals with politically connected taxpayers to the resignation of former Chairman Royce Chigbrow in January amid a criminal investigation. Last week, the Ada County prosecutor announced he wouldn't bring charges against Chigbrow despite having found evidence of wrongdoing on at least one count involving mishandling of checks, because a statute of limitations had expired on that charge. Chigbrow had been accused by commission employees of intervening on behalf of his son's accounting firm and attempting to use his position to help a friend embroiled in a dispute with a former business partner.
Jackson is blunt about the impact of the Chigbrow scandal. “I think it tarnished not only the Tax Commission, but CPAs,” he said; Chigbrow, like Jackson, is a longtime certified public accountant. “I'm hurt over it, it's unfortunate,” he said. “But I will tell you the governor's office was very methodical and we've taken lots of additional steps so that can't happen again.” You can read my full Sunday column here at spokesman.com.
Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant has issued a news release slamming the recent decision by Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower to forgo prosecuting former state Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow because statute of limitations had expired. “It is outrageous that Chigbrow won’t be called to account for his wrong doings,” Grant wrote. “If Republican leadership had acted when they first were told of concerns about Chigbrow’s behavior, maybe it wouldn’t have been too late to hold him accountable. This is just another case of the Republican Party turning a blind eye to unethical, and in this case, criminal behavior.”
He pointed to recent ethics questions involving state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, and state Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, and said, “It's time the Republican Party holds their leaders accountable.” You can read his full release here.
Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower's office announced Friday it won't prosecute the former chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission, the Associated Press reports, saying a statute of limitations expired on one complaint despite evidence of wrongdoing and that admissible evidence of illegal activity in other complaints was insufficient. Former Chairman Royce Chigbrow was investigated over several months by an Ada County Sheriff's Office detective on suspicion of failing to appropriately deposit checks from a taxpayer in 2010, providing confidential information to a friend and allegedly receiving stolen checks totaling more than $30,000; Chigbrow resigned in January as agency employees' complaints about these issues became public. Click below for the full report from AP reporter John Miller.
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill said of Sen. Bob Geddes, the new chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission, “He has truly been a statesman. He has been a resource for each of us. … One of the important institutions, the institution that collects our taxes, has had its integrity tarnished, and I can think of no better person, no one who's more respected by all people in this state … whether Republican or Democrat or anything else. … Even though we're going to miss him a great deal in the Idaho state Senate, he's going to provide some very important services to the citizens of the state, and I wish him all the best.”
Geddes said he's starting his new job as a tax commissioner today. “We want to make sure that as people come before the Tax Commission, that they are treated with respect, that they are treated fairly. … My job is going to be to make sure that that tax policy is implemented as all of us as citizens of the state would want it to be.”
“He has my total confidence and my appreciation,” Gov. Butch Otter said of Sen. Bob Geddes, his choice to be the next chairman of the state Tax Commission. “Bob has great respect in the Legislature, I think he has great respect all over Idaho. I have found that wherever I go, and a high level of confidence that not only comes from both sides of the rotunda but both sides of the aisle.”
Otter said, “Collecting taxes from people is one of the most important jobs and one of the most sensitive jobs we have in the state. People understand their responsibility in paying taxes, but they want to make sure it's fair, that it's equitable, and that it's done with respect.”
Geddes said, “I have accepted this position - I will do my very best.” He said he'll be retiring from his longtime position at Monsanto Corp.
Otter said possible reform of the Tax Commission still is under consideration. “I believe having Bob there will be very helpful in directing those issues or those questions or those ideas for change with the legislators,” Otter said. Geddes said, “I don't really have any preconceived notion of what really needs to be done at the Tax Commission at this point.” He said, “Certainly there is always room for improvements.”
Otter's previous Tax Commission chairman, Royce Chigbrow, who also was his longtime campaign treasurer, resigned a week and a half ago after allegations that he used his position to help a friend in a business dispute and to aid clients of his son's accounting firm.
Gov. Butch Otter is about to hold a press conference, the press is assembled, and his staff has just passed out the written announcement: He'll be naming Sen. Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, to be the next chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission.
Gov. Butch Otter will hold a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m. to announce his choice for a new chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission. The press conference, in the governor's ceremonial office, will be streamed live here.
Meanwhile, former longtime state tax auditor and Tax Commission whistle-blower Stan Howland will appear Tuesday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Senate flex room, WW17, to give a talk and answer questions from legislators. His appearance is sponsored by Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, and the group Stop Unequal Taxation in Idaho.
Idaho Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow resigned Friday after employees at the agency said he intervened in tax cases involving clients of his son's accounting firm as well as for a friend and political supporter, the AP reports. Click below for the full article from AP reporter John Miller.
Gov. Butch Otter just announced that he's accepted the resignation of Royce Chigbrow as chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission. Here's Otter's statement:
“Royce has been my friend and trusted adviser for a number of years. He was kind enough to enter the arena of public service at my request, and I applaud his hard work, knowledge and expertise in that role. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
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.
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.” You can read his letter of resignation here.
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?
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. Click below to read the full report from AP reporter John Miller.
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.
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Question: Are you surprised at this point that sweetheart deals seem to be regular fare at the Idaho Tax Commission?
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. Click below to read his full story.
Among the incidents detailed in the documents: Chigbrow’s son’s firm sent the chairman an e-mail in February seeking to reduce a state-recommended payment plan of $2,000 monthly for a client to $500 per month to satisfy an estimated $50,000 tax bill. The firm later received the reduced plan, over objections from the commission’s staff. In November 2007, Chigbrow’s former accounting firm, now run by his son, sent him two e-mails asking him for help in waiving tax penalty payments of $931.20 and $644.04. “Can you forward this request to someone in the appropriate department,” the firm’s e-mail requests at 10:51 a.m. Nov. 15. Eight minutes later, Royce Chigbrow forwarded the message to an unidentified Tax Commission employee. “Would you follow up on this,” he asks. A third e-mail from an employee shows the taxpayer received the abatement the next day.
Chigbrow, former longtime campaign treasurer for Gov. Butch Otter, denied any wrongdoing and said he just passed along messages. Lawmakers from both parties are now talking about ways to restructure the state Tax Commission, which now is operated by four political appointees.
Idaho Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, has unveiled sweeping legislation she plans to introduce to reform the state Tax Commission, shifting it from an agency run by four full-time political appointees to one run by a professional director with a part-time commission, and consolidating the revenue forecasting functions that now fall under the governor’s Division of Financial Management into the new agency, to be renamed the Department of Revenue and Taxation.
“It is high time to professionalize the Commission,” Jaquet said in her announcement; you can read it here. It says, “Jaquet said she decided to act when it became obvious that the current administration was not taking steps to address recent whistle blower allegations of favoritism and, in fact, seems perfectly comfortable with the status quo.”
She also calls for a full, outside forensic audit of the state Tax Commission and its operations, and a new process to determine whose taxes get audited “where the selection is blind, which will ensure that the process is fair for all Idaho taxpayers.” In her announcement, she makes note not only of the whistleblower allegations about secret deals with influential taxpayers, but of a major dispute between the current Tax Commission chairman, Royce Chigbrow, and the state’s elected county assessors over property tax issues.
Jaquet said, “The governor’s office and I have talked about this for the last couple years, and they may be working on something themselves, but I just wanted to get out there and say it’s time to do this.” The move of economic forecasting to the new department, she said, would help “keep politics out of revenue forecasting.” Jaquet, an eight-term state lawmaker, is the former House minority leader, a former member of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee and a current member of the joint budget committee; she is unopposed for re-election in November.