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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

District court tosses out Rep. Hart’s state income tax appeal

Tax-protesting state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, today lost his attempt in 1st District Court to appeal a state Tax Commission order that he pay $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest. In a sharply worded decision, District Judge John Mitchell granted the state's motion to dismiss Hart's appeal, and said Hart's claim "lacks any cogent legal argument."

The state Board of Tax Appeals tossed out Hart's belated attempt to appeal the order to pay the back taxes because he filed it months after the expiration of the 91-day appeal period; Hart argued that his status as a state legislator should make him exempt from the time limits, because the appeal period ran out shortly before the start of the 2010 legislative session. When Hart asked the Board of Tax Appeals to reconsider, it said that even if his argument about legislative privilege was correct, he still filed too late - and also paid a required fee too late.

Judge Mitchell agreed, and also noted that legislative privilege as applied in an Arizona case that Hart cited clearly would not apply to Hart's appeal. In this case, the judge said, it was Hart himself who left the Board of Tax Appeals and the district court without jurisdiction to take up his appeal - because it was he who filed far too late. Hart also argued in his appeal that Idaho's state income tax is unconstitutional; today's decision doesn't address that argument because it tosses out the whole case. You can read the judge's ruling here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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