Personal Finanace

Public records: Hide them at personal financial risk

2018 was a big year for public records and government transparency. The landmark decision on a City of Puyallup public records matter has placed public employees who circumvent transparency at personal financial risk.

A Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled a City Council member co-liable. Although city statutes had taxpayers pay his fines and private legal fees, that money may be a taxable gift, in the opinion of some experts.

The IRS is now evaluating the tax liabilities. They could be very large on a $225,000 “gift” once you consider tax, back taxes, interest and penalties dating back to 2014.

This should send shock waves through the Association of Washington Cities.

Municipal and county staff may feel the pain, along with taxpayers, for any future indiscretions for not producing records as required by law.


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