Idaho Legislator’s Paychecks Garnished by IRS

Posted on Jul 27, 2012

The IRS doesn't treat legislators who withhold their taxes any better than ordinary citizens, as witnessed in the case of outgoing Idaho state representative Phil Hart. In 1996, according to the Spokesman-Review, Hart stopped paying all his federal and state taxes, and filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal income tax was unconstitutional. He eventually (albeit grudgingly) came around to the government’s point of view, by which time he was in the hole for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes.

Hart has now filed for bankruptcy, and in his documents he reveals a startling bit of information: the IRS has been garnishing 100 percent of his Idaho legislator's pay for the past seven years, for a total of about $16,000 per year. (In most cases, the IRS doesn't garnish the entirety of a person’s paycheck; clearly, Hart has another source of income beside his state representative job). Despite the ongoing garnishment, Hart still has a hefty back tax bill; in another dubious maneuver, the Spokesman-Review says, he has placed his house in a trust under his daughter's name, which the IRS maintains is a “fraudulent” and deliberately meant to dodge his half-million dollar debt.

Perhaps fortunately for the Republican Party, Hart is about to exit Idaho politics: he recently lost a GOP primary for his state house seat.

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