Does He Owe Us Money?
(photo from www.sdrc-eb5.com
But just when The Associated Press tries to get some information about any investigation by the State of South Dakota into this imbroglio, along comes news that the State won't divulge anything, including whether or not it's even conducting an investigation. Bloggers Cory Heidelberger (who wonders if this is some sort of "state secret") and Kevin Woster (who questions the "logic") are as perplexed by this rhetorical weirdness as I am. SD Department of Revenue spokesman Jason Evans tells the AP that state law forbids the department from disclosing whether it's pursuing back taxes. "It's confidential taxpayer information," according to Evans. Tony Venhuizen, Governor Daugaard's Chief of Staff, adds that it's a "prohibition against state officials."
Seems reasonable enough. Taxpayers have every reason to expect a high degree of confidentiality in any dealings with state tax collectors--except for one thing. How does someone who hasn't paid taxes qualify as a "taxpayer?" It's true that Bollen's company last month was issued a license that will require him to pay taxes in the future, but the period in question has nothing to do with that. During the period in question, Bollen had no license and paid no taxes. He wasn't a taxpayer. So how come the gets the veil of confidentiality that taxpayers get? Meantime, are we to infer that the claim by Brown County that it is owed taxes that should have been paid is being ignored by state officials? Surely somebody must be looking into this matter, and just as surely the statute that bars disclosure of investigations of taxpayers needs to be examined. How can it bar disclosure of investigations of those who never paid taxes in the first place? They weren't "taxpayers." Sounds to me like they were "tax dodgers," and the public has a right to know if they're being investigated as such.