An Idaho lawmaker who is being sued by the federal government for unpaid taxes claims the IRS was wrong in asking him to pay eight years’ worth of business deductions. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Rep. Phil Hart (R-Athol) responded to the federal government’s lawsuit through court documents Thursday.
Here’s The Coeur d’Alene Press report:
The Internal Revenue Service said that Republican Rep. Phil Hart owes nearly $550,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties. The four-term lawmaker from Athol, who has a history of protesting taxation, believes that income taxes are unconstitutional.
The U.S. Justice Department sued him in October, alleging that he fraudulently transferred the title to his home in northern Idaho to keep the federal government from seizing it to help pay his tax bill. Federal tax lawyers say tax liens on the property should be foreclosed, Hart’s home sold and the proceeds should go toward satisfying his debts.
In court documents filed Thursday, Hart claimed the business deductions between 1996 and 2008 were denied because he refused to give the IRS information about individuals who purchased his self-published book, “Constitutional Income,” which disputes the legality of income taxes.
“For eight years, the IRS did not allow me to deduct things like office rent, payments to engineers working for me, nor a single paper clip or postage stamp,” Hart said in a statement. “Such deductions are allowed by statute and are not discretionary.”
The Kootenai County property at the center of the federal lawsuit was transferred by Hart to the Sarah Elizabeth Hart Trust, named after his daughter. But he wasn’t compensated for the transfer and he continued to live in the home, according to authorities.
The home also has been under scrutiny. Hart built it with timber he took illegally from Idaho state endowment land in 1996, well before he took office seven years ago.
In a separate case, the Idaho State Tax Commission has also been fighting Hart over $53,523 in past-due state income taxes, penalties and interest. Hart contends he has paid $150,000 in state and federal taxes in the past several years.