Five months after a Nebraska Watchdog investigation uncovered a tax loophole involving a state lawmaker and his high priced speedboat, that loophole is apparently getting a closer look.
Last October, Nebraska Watchdog reported that State Senator Kent Rogert of Tekamah managed to avoid paying the sales tax on his 1996 310-horsepower Baja 272, which he purchased in 2002. Boat dealers tell Nebraska Watchdog that Rogert’s boat would have cost about $40,000 in 2002, leaving Rogert a sales tax bill of at least $3,000.
According to Nebraska Watchdog’s investigation Rogert, who was elected in 2006, did not pay the sales tax because when he first registered the boat Rogert was given a dealer’s registration number. Paying the sales tax on boats is not required if the owner is a boat dealer. But there is nothing in Rogert’s state financial disclosure records indicating he sells boats and Rogert told Nebraska Watchdog he is not a boat dealer.
Nebraska Watchdog’s investigation also discovered that unlike car dealers, boat dealers in Nebraska are not licensed. Therefore they do not have to provide any proof they are legitimate dealers and are “taken at their word,” according to Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing.
Those issues and other boat licensing questions exposed by Nebraska Watchdog find State Senator Dave Pankonin looking for answers. An aide to the Plattsmouth lawmaker tells Nebraska Watchdog that after hearing concerns from one of his constituents, Pankonin has asked the Legislature’s Transportation Committee to examine the licensing process for boat dealers. The committee would then report its findings to the full legislature later this year.
According to the legislature’s Website, Rogert has added his name to Pankonin’s request. Nebraska Watchdog has tried to reach Rogert for a comment on the study but Rogert has not responded.
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Reported by Joe Jordan, email@example.com