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