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One Lawmaker's Way Of Dealing With Taxes ... And One Journalist's Response

Jun 25, 2010

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Reported by

Ken Rudin

Taxes have never been popular, and they're even less popular with Republicans.† And I suspect they're even less less less popular with Republicans from Idaho.

Here's one solution, as per state Rep. Phil Hart.† Hart owes the Idaho state Tax Commission more than $53,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties, but he says that because he's a legislator, "he's exempt from the deadlines for tax appeals that apply to all other†taxpayers."

That's according to reporter Betsy Russell of The Spokesman-Review, who has been chronicling Hart's battles with Idaho's state income tax, which he says is unconstitutional.

Hart was notified back in October that he owed the money and had 91 days to appeal.† As it turned out, he didn't file a notice of appeal until the end of March, and didn't pay the full required prepayment of 20 percent of the total amount until April.

Russell also reports that Hart has also paid his property taxes late every year since 2002.

Hart, unopposed in his bid for a fourth term in November, may be called before the House ethics committee.

Whatever outrage there might be over the way he deals with taxes — state House Minority Leader John Rusche (D) said, "I do not believe that being a legislator exempts you from the ordinary duties that you have as a citizen" — I still think that journalists should keep their personal opinions out of their coverage.

I don't mind, for instance, that Kevin Richert, blogging at the Idaho Statesman, wants Hart off the Revenue and Taxation Committee; he says it hurts the leadership's credibility by keeping him on that committee, and he's probably right.

But I think reporter Russell goes too far when she calls Hart an "Athol Republican."

And that's my comment for Friday.

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