Federal attorneys ask judge to foreclose on Hart

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Government lawyers are asking a judge to rule in their favor in a federal tax case against ex-state Rep. Phil Hart and allow them to immediately foreclose on his log home in northern Idaho.

In a motion filed Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Keneally said there are no disputes over the facts concerning six of the 13 years for which the government believes Hart owes back taxes, so U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge should rule in the government's favor on that portion of the lawsuit.

Keneally's motion for summary judgment also asks the judge to disallow several categories of deductions that Hart claimed in past returns and find that he's liable for penalties for filing late and for failing to pay taxes for various years.

Hart, a Republican from Athol who lost his bid for a fifth term in the Idaho House last year, stopped filing federal income tax returns in 1996 while he pursued a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal income tax. He lost the lawsuit, and the Internal Revenue Service is seeking to collect more than half a million dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest, partly by foreclosing on his log home.

Hart built the home in the 1990s with trees he acknowledged taking from state land without paying, according to litigation by the state of Idaho that went unresolved for years. Hart also tried to protect the home by filing bankruptcy and by placing it in a trust named for his daughter, but the IRS has rejected that transfer as inappropriate.

"Hart admits that his attempt to transfer the property was not effective, and the transferees have either already conceded that they are not a bona fide purchaser for value or have conceded the necessary facts for such a finding by failing to respond to discovery," Keneally wrote in the motion.

Phone calls to a number listed for Phil Hart went unanswered Monday afternoon. He has not yet filed a response to the motion for summary judgment.

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