UPDATE: W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice says all taxes have been paid

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 8/8/18 @ 10:10 p.m.West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says companies linked to him won't shirk millions of dollars owed in Kentucky, but he didn't say when payments would be made.

Justice announced Monday that coal companies linked to his family have paid all the delinquent taxes they owe in West Virginia and its counties. But the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Wednesday that records from county clerk offices show more than $2.5 million is owed across at least five Kentucky counties.

The newspaper said some of the counties are struggling to fund schools and social services due to budgetary shortfalls.

Justice said he wants to pay everything as soon as possible. But he has transferred control of the companies to his children and couldn't say how the companies are working to pay the debts.



UPDATE 8/6/18 @ 10:10 p.m.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Monday that all of his tax obligations in the state of West Virginia have been paid.

WSAZ was the first to report the story. Gov. Justice also sat down with Amanda Barren on First Look at Four.

When asked if the wire transfer was complete, Justice replied, "Absolutely."

The issue of more than $4 million in unpaid taxes to the state has plagued Justice since before he was elected in November 2016.

At this time, an exact dollar amount is not being released.

"My companies have been completely transparent," Justice said. "I have had nothing to do with it whatsoever."

The governor's son Jay (James "Jay" C. Justice, III) runs the family's coal and agriculture operations.

"There's all kinds of twists and negotiations and disputes and everything that go on," Gov. Justice said. "Therefore, I mean it would be frivolous to think that people have not done their job, not done their job in a really good way. They've audited. They've been back double, triple through all the numbers and everything else. Jay has too. It's been paid. It's been paid in full. We need to move on."

The move drew criticism from the West Virginia Democratic Party.

"If Jim Justice can tell his administration to announce that he's paid some of his taxes, he can direct them to release the total amount he's paid on penalty and interest," said Belinda Biafore, chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party. "Since Justice opened up this can of worms with his employees in the Tax Department, he needs to come clean let people know that he didn't get a sweetheart deal on penalties and interest. By Justice not releasing the full details, he's still using the power of state government to take up for bad business practices -- like using the state as a bank."

"The one thing I pride myself on more than anything is telling the truth and we've done it again," Gov. Justice said at a news conference Monday afternoon at the West Virginia State Capitol.

The governor said that Monday's announcement gave him the opportunity to share a story that he's been wanting to tell for a long time.

According to the governor, his family bought back Bluestone Mine from a Russian company that he says was going to walk away from its obligations when it came to property taxes. UMWA pension contribution and mine reclamation.

When asked on WSAZ's First Look at Four about absorbing the debts of the Russian Company, Justice said he didn't have to absorb those debts, but he choose to.

"Well it was my dad's company. it was my dad's people. There was people with the UMWA retirees pension fund that just gotten hammered," Justice said during the broadcast.

Justice said at the time he borrowed $56 million thinking it would cover the costs, but that was not the case. Gov. Justice also said as a part of the deal of buying back the mine he gave up $166 million that the company owed him as a part of an earlier agreement.

Justice said he made a choice to not file bankruptcy.

"We could have saved ourselves hundreds of millions of dollars by just doing that."

"For someone like the governor to step in and earn his way out of the problem is almost unheard of," said Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection Austin Caperton, who also said during the news conference Monday that he is a personal friend of the governor.

Caperton went on to say that had the Justice family not taken those steps, the state's mine reclamation fund would have been stressed or possibly broken, and bonding companies would not offer bonds in West Virginia. Furthermore, he said it would have caused residual issues for support businesses and in counties where property taxes were owed.



UPDATE 8/6/18 @ 5:40 p.m.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said Monday all of his tax obligations in the state of West Virginia have been paid.

WSAZ was the first to report the story. Gov. Justice also sat down with Amanda Barren on First Look at Four.

When asked if the wire transfer was complete, Justice replied, "Absolutely."

The issue of more than $4 million in unpaid taxes to the state has plagued Justice since before he was elected in November of 2016.

At this time, an exact dollar amount is not being released.

"My companies have been completely transparent," Justice said. "I have had nothing to do with it whatsoever."

The governor's son Jay (James "Jay" C. Justice, III) runs the family's coal and agriculture operations.

"There's all kinds of twists and negotiations and disputes and everything that go on. Therefore, I mean it would be frivolous to think that people have not done their job, not done their job in a really good way. They've audited. They've been back double, triple through all the numbers and everything else. Jay [Justice's son] has too. It's been paid. It's been paid in full. We need to move on."

You can watch more of our live interview with Justice in the video attached to this story.

ORIGINAL STORY 8/6/18
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice tells WSAZ that all of his past due tax obligations in the state of West Virginia will be paid Monday.

At this time, an exact dollar amount is not being released. The issue of more than $4 million in unpaid taxes to the state has plagued Justice since before he was elected in November of 2016.

WSAZ tried to independently verify the payment, but under state law, West Virginia Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy says he cannot discuss individual tax matters.

Gov. Justice is holding a news conference Monday at 2:45 p.m. where we are expecting to learn more.

The governor will also sit down with us on First Look at Four to talk more about the tax issue.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



 
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