House committee rejects expansion of tax commission authority


Jody Olson, chairman of the PERSI oversight board, joined two other board members in approving a 4 percent payment hike for some retirees.

A House committee has rejected a bill that would have allowed the Idaho State Tax Commission to keep tax scofflaws from working while they owe sales or withholding taxes. House Bill 70 would have allowed the tax commission to ask a district judge to enjoin “any person or entity from carrying on a trade, occupation or business while the person or entity is violating or continuing to violate” state law by failing to remit their taxes.

Tax commission officials said the request is consistent with powers given to other agencies of state government, including the Idaho Industrial Commission.

But Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, didn’t buy it and asked the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, of which he is a member, to reject the legislation.

Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, said the measure went too far, targeting a person’s livelihood. “I cannot understand taking someone’s trade or occupation” while they are behind on their taxes, she observed.

Tax commission officials tried to assure lawmakers that the action would only be taken in certain circumstances, and wouldn’t be used to make it harder to pay off an outstanding debt.

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said the wording of the bill was subject to interpretation and would likely result in a state Supreme Court case. “I just don’t think the bill is quite ready,” Burgoyne said.

The committee voted unanimously to kill the measure. Hartgen later said the bill’s potential impact on the ability of people to engage in commerce reminded him of the complaints voiced by colonists in the Declaration of Independence.

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