The Democratic Party today raised questions about Asa Hutchinson’s care in paying required taxes.
Earlier, Hutchinson was caught by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for claiming a homestead tax credit on homes in two counties, when the credit is limited to the primary residence. He claimed it was an oversight, though he signed forms swearing to his residency in two counties. He repaid the illegally received credits..
Today, the Democratic Party says it can find no record Asa Hutchinson paid business personal property taxes in Pulaski County for five years, 2005-09, when state records indicate he operated a consulting business here. The party said he moved the business to Benton County in 2010 or 2011. Party Chair Vince Insalaco said in a news release:
“Congressman Hutchinson owned and operated a business in Pulaski County from 2005 to 2009 and Pulaski County cannot find a single payment for business personal property taxes during that entire period, so we are asking Congressman Hutchinson to say whether he properly paid his taxes during those years or not,” said Insalaco. “After the Arkansas Democrat Gazette found that Congressman Hutchinson also pocketed illegal tax credits for several years, this is just the latest example of Congressman Hutchinson believing he plays by an entirely different set of rules than ordinary, working Arkansans.”
Asa Hutchinson created The Hutchinson Group in 2005, which operated in Little Rock through 2009, but Pulaski County has no record of the business ever paying its business personal property taxes. Pulaski County requires that any business owner who operates a business and who holds personal property used in the course of operating said business is required to assess and pay business personal property taxes on assets such as furniture, machinery and equipment.
“I call on Congressman Hutchinson to come clean and tell the people of Arkansas if he properly paid his taxes or not – especially when those taxes help fund public education here in Arkansas,” said Insalaco. “If Congressman Hutchinson did again cheat on his taxes, a pattern of gross incompetence or tax evasion is emerging from Congressman Hutchinson’s history – either of which should send shock waves through the minds of voters across Arkansas. If we voters can’t trust Congressman Hutchinson to properly manage his finances, how can we trust Congressman Hutchinson to properly manage the finances of the state of Arkansas.”
I’ve asked Hutchinson’s campaign for a response.
Existence of a business on which a franchise tax is paid is not prima facie evidence that the business had property subject to the property tax. Today, the assessor’s office makes a more comprehensive effort to send assessment forms to all businesses, sometimes based on privilege license filings. Those forms allow businesses to state they they have only leased equipment. (That equipment would be subject to assessment by its owner, however.) The assessor’s office has no record of assessment, waiver forms or anything else relative to the Hutchinson Group.
In checking this with the Pulaski assessor, I did learn that — though you see signs for many campaign operations around town from both parties — only one has made a property tax assessment in Pulaski County. That was the Mike Ross campaign. Again, none of them may own any property.
I’ll await more from the Hutchinson campaign before joining the Dem Party bandwagon./