Whistleblower: Idaho losing millions in unpaid taxes

Whistleblower: Idaho losing millions in unpaid taxes »Play Video
BOISE - Stan Howland says he's worked for the Idaho Tax Commission for 28 years. His job his to audit companies that do business in Idaho. But some, he said, aren't paying their fair share.

“It's tax money. It's just like your money. The only difference is you don't get a break and they do,” Howland said.

Howland said he's seen it happen first-hand for 15 years: the tax commissioner and deputy attorney generals writing off millions of dollars in income tax returns.

“These aren't accidents, they understand what they're doing, they understand the law,” he said.

Howland said it's the same 30 or 40 companies getting the illegal tax breaks, and it's been going on for so long it's almost instutionalized. According to Howland's report, the process is “relatively straightforward. A corporation files an incorrect Idaho income tax return, it is corrected by the audit staff, the additional tax liability is protested by the taxpayer, and then a Tax Commissioner allows the taxpayer to pay only a percentage of what is really owed.”

"It's cutting a deal,” Howland said, “it's exactly cutting a deal."

Howland's 18-page report cites an example where one company was allegedly billed $300,000 and ended up paying $80,000. In another example, Howland alleges the tax commissioner cut a company's tax bill by $65,000 and waived $13,255 in penalties.

Howland said it wasn't easy to go public.

“It's a very difficult thing to do. I know a lot of these people. I know them very well,” he said.

Liz Rodosovich, the communications director at the State Tax Commission, said the tax commissioners haven't seen the report yet, and can't comment.

Howland said he sent his report to Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, and the Idaho Legislature. He hopes lawmakers will change the state's corporate audit laws, making the process open to the public.