A handful of Democrats in the Alaska Senate are calling for an audit of the auditors for the State of Alaska that look at the tax returns of the major oil producers.
The Alaska Department of Revenue allegedly has a 5-year backlog in examining the tax returns and several Senate Democrats used Wednesday' Minority press conference to speak to the issue. The discussion came after Senator Hollis French from Anchorage submitted a request for a legislative audit of the auditing backlog.
"We have not even completed the first audits of the 2007 tax year when we had half a year of PPT and half a year of ACES. It is a complex undertaking but here we are 6-years later about to fundamentally restructure oil taxes in Alaska and we don't even know how the system we have in place is working."
Senator French's request was sent to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee and he's asking for the legislative audit to identify the cause for the audit backlog in the Department of Revenue. The Minority Leader in the State Senate is Johnny Ellis from Anchorage.
"We have discussed amongst ourselves how outlandish it is that there have not been completed audit of the ACES system. We are in the dark."
The process of auditing the tax payments to the State from the oil companies has been made more difficult because of the passage and implementation of the Petroleum Production Tax law over 6-years ago and then the changes included in the ACES tax law over 5-years ago. Senator Berta Gardner is also supporting the idea of a legislative audit.
"Every year I come down and ask the Department of Revenue if we have completed any of the aces audits. The answerer is no but they are always just on the verge."
The request for the Legislative audit will have to go through the committee process in the Senate, which means there is no guarantee it will be approved. However, if it is approved Senator French thinks the audit will likely take a year. Senator French's request for a Legislative audit of the auditing process within the Alaska Department of Revenue specifically requests an examination of the Tax Division's methodology, the professional qualifications and experience level of the staff, and a up-to-date status report on the current backlog.