BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Livingston Parish Tax Assessor Jeff Taylor should likely be documenting his personal use of his publicly-owned vehicle and reporting that use to the Internal Revenue Service as income, a state audit released Monday says.
Taylor maintains that, as an elected official, he is a public servant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and should not have to report his personal use of the take-home vehicle as income, the audit says.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor disagreed and recommended that Taylor start to “document and report” his personal use of the vehicle and seek an Attorney General’s opinion on the matter.
Taylor would not have to document when he is driving the vehicle for official business.
But, if he is driving the vehicle on vacation, to a grocery store, or any other trip of a personal nature, he would.
Taylor drives a 2019 Toyota Tundra that was purchased for $40,652.75, records show.
A report by the 9NEWS Investigators earlier this year revealed that, in December 2018, Taylor drove the take-home vehicle to Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Taylor said, as incoming president of the Louisiana Assessor’s Association, he was in the Grand Isle area at that time on official business, meeting with tax assessors from other parishes including Assumption, St. James, and Lafourche. His meeting with the assessor in Lafourche, the closest to Grand Isle, was not until Dec. 11. However, his take-home vehicle passed through the toll booth heading into Grand Isle on Dec. 7, 2018, a Friday, at 8:25 p.m., and again on Dec. 11, 2018 at 8:35 p.m., state records show. In response to the state audit, an attorney representing the Livingston Parish Assessor’s Office said it plans to “obtain clarification of the laws applicable to the use of public vehicles to determine whether any adjustments to its reporting practices should be implemented.” Taylor says the auditor in his own office has determined the personal use of the vehicle would not subject Taylor to any taxes.
The audit also focused on whether Taylor’s office is properly retaining emails sent to his office, as required by public records laws. Auditors suggested that the office consult with an attorney regarding how long such records should be retained.
Taylor issued the following statement to WAFB regarding the audit:
The Livingston Parish Assessor’s Office underwent an extensive audit resulting from false accusations made during a very contentious election campaign last year. I personally asked the Legislative Auditor in November 2019 to review the claims to clear my office of any speculation.
I am proud to announce that an 11-month investigation including thorough reviews of more than 10 years of assessment records, accounting records and procedures resulted in no FINDING to support the campaign allegations.
Much credit goes to my dedicated staff for their professionalism and acute attention to details and documentation which confirmed accuracy, fairness, and transparency in all that we do.
The Legislative Auditor’s Nov. 18, 2020, report recommended further review: (1) procedures for junk and spam emails, and (2) documentation regarding office vehicles. It was clearly stated to investigators that the Livingston Parish Assessor’s Office only deleted spam and junk emails, and that all office-related emails are responded to and retained. The office’s auditor affirmed reporting practices for my personal use of an office vehicle complies with federal reporting rules.
I am very pleased to tell the people of Livingston Parish that their Assessor’s Office is professionally, effectively, and honestly managed. The false, politically motivated accusations intended to embarrass me and my staff gave us an opportunity to reaffirm the high level of commitment and professionalism to the people we serve.
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