Oregon Cracks Down on Tax Cheating

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has culminated a
complex, 18-month-long investigation of fraudulent registrations of
out-of-state luxury motor coaches by charging Tualatin, Oregon, resident
Denise Harden with 10 counts of Tampering with a Public Record (ORS
162.305) and civil violations of Oregon’s Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organization law (ORICO).

Harden submitted a no-contest plea and was sentenced pursuant
to a stipulated agreement to two years of probation on 10 counts of
Tampering with Public Records. As part of the civil judgment, she is
subject to a permanent injunction preventing her from engaging in
similar enterprises in the future and agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.

“This settlement sends a clear message to those who choose to
defraud states by falsely registering motor vehicles in Oregon and
avoiding sales taxes and registration fees,” stated Attorney General
Hardy Myers.

In August 2005, the DOJ began investigating Harden regarding
her involvement in a scheme to assist out-of-state businesses and
individuals in avoiding sales tax and registration fees in their home
states by fraudulently registering their motor vehicles, primarily
luxury motor coaches, in Oregon. Harden allowed her personal residential
address to be used to establish what appeared to be a legitimate
address in-state.

The out-of-state vehicle owners took advantage of Oregon’s
relatively low registration fees by fraudulently registering their
vehicles in Oregon by falsely listing the address of a residence in
Oregon as the person’s address, commonly known as a “mail drop,” on the
application form. Also, because Oregon has no sales tax, if a person or
business uses a “mail drop” address that is located in Oregon when
purchasing a motor vehicle, then that person or business may, depending
on a particular state’s tax law, avoid paying any sales tax that the
person or business would otherwise be required to pay in the state where
the person or business is actually located.

Out-of-state businesses and individuals paid Denise Harden to
help them establish a presence in Oregon by assisting them in creating a
corporation in Oregon (or in registering an existing corporation in
Oregon) and acting as the corporation’s registered agent, and by
allowing them to use her personal residence as the Oregon address of the
corporation. The out-of-state businesses and corporations then
purchased motor vehicles in the name of the corporation and used
Harden’s address as the corporation’s address. None of the corporations
conducted business in Oregon, other than to purchase and register motor
vehicles.

Harden was actively involved in all aspects of the scheme,
which included creating her own corporation, Registration Station, to
assist in promoting the illicit enterprise. At the close of the state’s
investigation, Denise Harden was the registered agent for approximately
70 corporations and had more than 300 motor vehicles registered at her
address.

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