Justice Should Explain or Pay

There are any number of good reasons why a taxpayer might argue with government about his or her bill. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice may be running out of them, however.

Before the gubernatorial election last year, it was reported Justice’s companies owed taxes, fines and other bills totaling more than $15 million to various state and federal entities. At the time, Justice said he intended to pay every dime he owed, but he pointed out there had been some disputes over just how much he should have to pay.

Last week, it was reported Justice’s companies, now managed by his son, are in hot water again. Since mid-March, the state Tax Department has filed liens in Kanawha County alleging one of the firms, Tams Management Inc., owes nearly $1 million in taxes, interest and penalties. Much of the money is in severance taxes.

Asked about that by a reporter, a spokesman for Justice replied, “Tams Management and its affiliates have been and remain committed to honoring all their tax obligations …”

Where have we heard that before?

If there are reasons the taxes, penalties, interest, fines, etc. are being disputed, the Justice family should reveal them.

Otherwise, they should pay what they owe, without delay.

It cannot have escaped the governor that, while asking West Virginians to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year in higher taxes, his companies’ unpaid bills were making it more difficult for state government to make ends meet.