By Kate Mishkin
March 1, 2018 - While teachers’ chants for increased pay and benefits reverberate through the halls of the West Virginia Capitol, records housed less than 2 miles away in the Kanawha County Courthouse show Gov. Jim Justice still isn’t paying state taxes.
Tams Management Inc, one of Justice’s companies, owes almost $3 million in taxes, prompting the West Virginia State Tax Department to file several liens in Kanawha County. That covers taxes, interest and penalties ranging from 2014 to January 2018. There are 15 liens in all, filed in Kanawha County.
A tax lien is imposed on property by the government when a business or person doesn’t pay taxes.
The Justice Family Corp. didn’t respond to several phone calls and emails requesting comment for this report.
According to records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, Justice’s son, James C. Justice III, is the president and director of the company. Justice’s daughter, Jill Justice, also is a director of the company. James T. Miller is listed as secretary and treasurer.
Tams Management is listed as the operator of Orchard Loadout, an active coal facility, and Tams No. 1 Surface Mine, a nonproducing surface coal mine, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Considered West Virginia’s richest man, Justice has a long-standing reputation of not paying his bills and racking up fines from pollution violations at coal-mining operations and lawsuits. That includes one from December 2016, when a Texas-based flood restoration company sued the Justice companies, claiming it hadn’t been paid for cleanup and restoration work of Justice’s Greenbrier resort properties, damaged in the June 2016 flood.
An October 2016 NPR investigation revealed that Justice’s mining companies owed $15 million in six states, when Justice was a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. In Kanawha County, Tams Management Inc. had four liens and about $1.4 million in unpaid state taxes. Since then, one lien was released, meaning Justice’s company paid enough to satisfy the $83,963.35 it owed.
In the time between the investigation and another Gazette-Mail report last spring, state tax officials filed four new liens for coal reclamation taxes and coal severance taxes.
Coal severance taxes help fund state and local government programs, and reclamation taxes fund initiatives to clean up abandoned coal mine sites.
Since then, state tax officials have filed six new liens, the most recent in January. All are for unpaid coal reclamation taxes and cite $30,104.18 in taxes, interest and penalties owed by Tams Management, according to courthouse records. All told, the 15 liens cover $2,922,568.42 Tams Management Inc. still owes in taxes, interest and penalties.
This week, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Justice’s coal companies owed $2.9 million in delinquent property taxes in Kentucky — money officials there said could go toward funding schools.
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