A state senator faults the Ricketts Administration for its refusal to tell lawmakers how it intends to collect sales taxes from reluctant taxpayers.
Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha presses state Tax Commissioner Tony Fulton unsuccessfully on what methods the Ricketts Administration uses to collect sales taxes when they are not remitted voluntarily.
Harr brings up the issue during a lengthy exchange Fulton had with lawmakers during a joint hearing at the Capitol held by the Appropriations and Revenue Committees.
Fulton tells senators the state needs to evolve with the culture, acknowledging the point of one senator that the economy has shifted toward a more service oriented economy.
Harr presses Fulton on why Gov. Pete Ricketts refused to back a bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse which would have enforced the collection of sales taxes on Internet sales.
Fulton says the administration considers the bill unconstitutional, though that point should be clarified soon by the courts.
Fulton declines to disclose how the state attempts to collect sales tax owed, but not remitted.
Harr tells Fulton his refusal is a slap to the face of lawmakers.
“I was hurt is a nice way of saying it, offended, that you said we don’t have a right to know this stuff,” Harr says to Fulton. “It’s almost as if knowledge is power in my world and you’re saying we’re not going to give you that knowledge. We’re collecting this sales tax. We’re not going to tell you how much, how successful we are, how unsuccessful we are. That’s a real problem.”
Fulton replies he doesn’t disclose the methods, because he doesn’t want those trying to cheat the system to know how the state plans to catch them.