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Taking a look at taxes, money

May 26, 2019

It would likely be asking too much to expect every West Virginian to understand the financial details that make the world spin.

That’s one arena where even Democrats should acknowledge President Trump’s expertise. They should, but of course they won’t.

But even someone with a lifetime in high finance needs help in always making the right call. Stocks and bonds are volatile; so are the people who manage them.

It’s quite an honor and compliment to the citizens of West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District that one of their own is part of a trade and economic mission to China this month.

Freshman Republican Rep. Carol Miller is off for Asia with a group studying trade and the economic ramifications involving the U.S. and China.

With Russia, China and America the three most powerful nations on the earth, our leaders have big shoes to fill in leading us through the 21st century.

As I noted, it is an honor for Miller and a compliment to the voters of the 3rd District, who elected her.

Miller has already earned a reputation as one of the hardest-working members of Congress. “It’s not unusual to see her at the Capitol at 7:30 a.m. and then see her headed home at 8:30 p.m.” said one staffer.

Although not one to seek the spotlight, Miller was known for her hard work as a member of the state Legislature as well. She quietly provides leadership on many levels.

Now it’s time to shove in the clutch and switch gears. It’s about taxes and money again, so try not to get bored.

There are those who think reporters enjoy inflicting written pain. Some think all we live for is to introduce some scandal to the public. My experience does tell me that readers gobble up negatives more than positives. If the paper is filled with nothing but good news, the paper box will remain full. That’s a proven fact.

I take no personal pleasure in this item, but it is worthy of the public’s attention.

For months, readers have asked me about the agreement between the Cabell County Commission and Huntington attorney David Tyson. It is a nearly 20-year-old deal, with a few amendments, that permits Tyson to legally pursue taxpayers who fail to keep up with their personal property taxes.

Most of those who have asked me about the arrangement have followed up by saying, “but he (Tyson) doesn’t pay his own taxes and he doesn’t sue himself.”

As with all political gossip, there is some truth and some flawed information that these readers have. As noted, for around 20 years, Tyson has been the county’s outside counsel in pursuing deadbeat taxpayers. Unfortunately, it also appears to be true that the attorney has trouble keeping his own taxes current. For the sake of full disclosure, so do I.

Looking over those past years, it is difficult to find a time when Tyson’s personal property taxes were current. A five-year deficit is more common, according to courthouse records.

Nearly everyone is reluctant to discuss the subject. For one thing, records show Tyson has helped bring in a lot of money to the county coffers.

Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, who ran on a tough-on-taxes platform, will admit one thing, though: Nearly everyone Tyson sued on behalf of the county brought up Tyson’s back taxes.

Zerkle’s predecessor, T.W. McComas, referred to similar comments in a 2016 letter to then-Commission President Bob Bailey. McComas mentioned an “anonymous letter” Bailey received regarding Tyson’s tax situation and pointed out that Tyson was not his employee.

Zerkle, like others, said, “I like David Tyson. Personally, I have no problem with him whatsoever. But I ran on a platform of collecting taxes due the county. People expect everyone to pay their fair share.”

Ironically, while Democrats controlled the commission, Republican Tyson’s contracts were routinely renewed. But, with a new Republican commission majority, his contract was terminated in April on a unanimous vote. A formal request for outside counsel proposals specifically requires that the successful applicant be current on his or her taxes.

Perhaps somebody can explain the teacher’s union leadership to me. We’ll chat about that next week.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or ronjgregory@gmail.com.

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