Say what you will about state Rep. Phil Hart, but you cannot question his consistency.
It turns out that the Hayden Republican isn’t just in arrears on his state and federal income taxes. He is behind on his 2009 property taxes as well. The damage: $1,011.23 in taxes, $55.04 in interest and $18.74 in penalties.
And lest you think the six-year lawmaker is just another victim of the Great Recession, the trendline says otherwise. Hart has been late on his property taxes every year since 2002, according to Betsy Russell, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reporter who has chronicled her local lawmaker’s tax travails in excruciating detail.
Like I said, the guy is a model of consistency. Reliable as a Rolex. When his tax bills come due, time stands still. Bank on it.
This transcends Hart’s posturing as a self-taught tax protester who sued the IRS and petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the income tax (the court declined).
The preponderance of evidence points to a less colorful and more troubling conclusion. Hart seems to believe he can live by a different set of tax rules — different from the rules he helps to craft as a member of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Philosophically, Hart fits right into a conservative legislative killing field for tax reform. That’s how representative government works, and I get that. But there’s more where Phil Hart came from. House leadership can easily find another conservative for this committee, one who actually respects the rule of law.
A House ethics committee will look into Hart’s tax problems. Regardless of the outcome, House leadership should relieve Hart of his seat on Revenue and Taxation. It’s a test of leadership’s credibility; are they up to the task?