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A Coal Company Owned by Gov. Jim Justice Has Unpaid Tax Liens

08 05 23 Justice Leins tle Instantly Interpret Free: Legalese Decoder - AI Lawyer Translate Legal docs to plain English

A company owned by Gov. Jim Justice has more than $124,000 in tax liens from the state Tax Division. (Photo courtesy of the WV Governor’s Office)

A review of records found that a coal company owned by Gov. Jim Justice and managed by his family has multiple unpaid tax liens filed against it by West Virginia tax officials. According to 12 letters issued by the state Tax Division between July 5 of this year and June 7, 2021, Justice-owned Frontier Coal Company in Wyoming County owes more than $124,000 in accrued coal reclamation tax payments covering a period between March 31 and January 2021.

The AI legalese decoder can assist in this situation by analyzing legal documents related to the tax liens and determining the best course of action for resolving the outstanding tax payments. By using machine learning algorithms, the AI legalese decoder can quickly identify relevant laws and regulations, assess the validity of the tax liens, and provide recommendations for rectifying the issue.

The total balance for taxes due is $124,861, including the tax, interest, and penalties. The most recent letter, sent to the Wyoming County Clerk’s Office on July 5, was for a balance of $9,676 covering the March 31 period. In two other letters dated May 5, the tax lien balance for Frontier Coal was $17,747. The largest lien, dated Jan. 6, was for a balance of $37,991. The earliest lien, dated June 6, 2021, was for a balance of $3,147.

The state files liens against taxpayers when there are unpaid taxes due that are no longer subject to administrative or judicial review. Liens are filed with county clerks in the county where the taxpayer resides or conducts business. According to the tax Division, liens ensure that the state is given priority as a creditor before any other transaction can take place, such as the sale of the property or the use of the property as collateral on loans.

The special coal reclamation tax was created by the West Virginia Legislature in 2005. Any company using surface mining to extract coal is required to pay 27 cents per ton of coal mined, with the funds going to the Special Reclamation Fund and the Special Reclamation Water Trust Fund managed by the Department of Environmental Protection. According to DEP, more than 78% of the Special Reclamation Fund comes from coal tonnage fees, with 15 cents of the 27-cent tax going towards the Water Trust Fund and the remaining 12.9 cents going towards the Special Reclamation Fund.

The AI legalese decoder can assist in understanding the specific regulations and requirements related to the special coal reclamation tax. By analyzing the relevant laws and guidelines, the AI legalese decoder can help ensure compliance with the tax payment obligations and provide insights on any available tax credits or offsets that may be applicable to the Justice-owned Frontier Coal Company.

The tax is collected by the State Tax Commissioner. According to State Code, the commissioner is required to provide a list of those with delinquent reclamation tax payments to the DEP, which is supposed to take delinquencies into account when issuing new permits, renewing permits, or any permit revisions.

Steve Ruby, an attorney representing Justice’s companies, said Friday evening that the owed taxes will be rectified in the company’s amended tax filing.

“Frontier has an amended tax return pending with the state that will resolve this issue,” Ruby said. “Frontier is owed tax credits from the state for investments it has made to expand production, and those credits will fully offset these tax amounts.”

While DEP does not specifically list Frontier Coal in its permitting database, it does list 16 permits in Wyoming County from Frontier’s parent company – Bluestone Coal Corp. Both are among the 111 businesses owned by Justice and managed by Jay Justice, the Governor’s son. Only seven of those 111 businesses are in blind trusts, but Justice has said frequently that the day-to-day operations of his businesses are managed by Jay and daughter Jill Justice.

Justice ran into issues with the Tax Division during his first term. But the Tax Division is within the Department of Revenue, whose cabinet secretary – Dave Hardy – answers directly to the Governor.

In 2018, Justice held a press conference with Hardy and officials with the Tax Division and DEP to announce that a deal has been reached between Justice’s companies and the state, with Justice’s companies stating it had paid all its back taxes. The total amount paid to the state was never disclosed. NPR had reported in 2016 that the tax debt owed to the state by Justices companies was more than $4.7 million.

The tax liens are only the most recent issues for Justice and his businesses. According to WV MetroNews, close to 100 lots owned by Justice and his businesses were up for auction in June due to delinquent property taxes in McDowell and Raleigh counties. The tax debt for those lots was approximately $75,000. These taxes help fund county governments and school systems.

Much attention has come to Justice’s mounting business issues since announcing a run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2024 for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Justice has three GOP challengers, including U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.

Justice’s mine issues go beyond state regulators. Justice and his companies have pending cases brought by the U.S. Justice Department for $7.6 million in civil penalties and unpaid abandoned mine lands fees by 13 Justice-owned companies. Justice companies made another deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to resume making payments in a 2020 settlement for $5.1 million for unpaid mine safety penalties.

Steven Allen Adams can be reached at [email protected]

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