This is Part II in the series of investigative reports WDW – FL is publishing on the Florida Department of Revenue (FLDOR), the mandated unemployment insurance assessments and an $18 million lawsuit by Florida small businessman Don Baldauf. WDW – FL examines the potential impact of this lawsuit on taxation and regulation in the sunshine state. Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, 12th Circuit Court Judge K. Douglass Henderson and twenty-three others defendants are named in the lawsuit.
Baldauf protested the mandate that he pay Florida’s unemployment insurance assessment as a sole proprietor business. All businesses are mandated by the Florida Department of Revenue (FLDOR) to pay for unemployment insurance. Florida is the only provider of unemployment insurance. The unemployment insurance assessments are administered by the FLDOR. Currently FLDOR rules deny sole proprietorship businesses benefits, like Baldauf’s Epitome Systems. During the lengthy administrative hearing process Baldauf continually requested a trial by jury. FLDOR consistently denied his request.
On what grounds was Baldauf”s request for a jury trial denied? That is the focus of Part II.
Baldauf states, “I am suing because I have been deprived of my US Constitution Seventh Amendment rights as a Florida small businessman. Each and every one named as defendants is accused of taking part in preventing me from settling this taxation controversy with the State of Florida by invoking my right to a jury trial. What reason was I given for not being able to exercise my right to a trial by jury? Because King George III says I do not have that right. Yep, according to some of the plaintiffs 1776 never happened!” Baldauf started a website titled JuryTrialRights.com where interested individuals may view the lawsuit and related documents.
Article I, § 22, of the Florida Constitution states a right to a jury trial “shall be secure to all and remain inviolate.”
The Governor and FLDOR have denied Baldauf a jury trial citing 1845 English common laws. Exhibit 7-D and Exhibit 20-A specifically cite 1845 English common laws. Exhibit 7-D cites “FOREIGN STATUTES” and 1845 English common laws. The Chief Counsel for the Governor’s office cites 1845 English common law in Exhibit 20-A. Both cite the 1994 Florida Supreme Court case Printing House vs. The Department of Revenue. In that case the Florida Supreme Court found:
Printing House, Inc. v. Department of Revenue, 614 So.2d 1119 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. We hold that a taxpayer has no right to a jury trial when contesting tax assessments, but a taxpayer who pays the assessment under protest and requests a refund is entitled to a jury trial, as is a taxpayer who challenges a punitive civil penalty. The decision of the district court is approved in part and quashed in part.
- The Printing House case is about ad valorem (property) and excise taxes not unemployment insurance assessments.
- In November 2011, Tabatha Bookout–Aldous, Revenue Administrator II – SES for the FLDOR, filed a tax lien against Baldauf’s business in Sarasota County, FL violating, according to Baldauf, Florida Statute 443 and denying him his right to due process.
- In June 2012 a unemployment insurance assessment was taken directly from Baldauf’s bank account by the FLDOR under protest by Baldauf. Baldauf’s bank was instructed by the to send the FLDOR $1,157.30 out of his bank account. This action was executed by Lisa Vickers by Ewa Zietarska from the FLDOR.
- Therefore as the Florida Supreme Court has ruled Baldauf is, given 1, 2 and 3 above, “entitled to a jury trial”.
The Constitution of the State of Florida, Article II SECTION 5 states:
“(b) Each state and county officer, before entering upon the duties of the office, shall give bond as required by law, and shall swear or affirm:” “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the state; and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of (title of office) on which I am now about to enter. So help me God.”
Baldauf states, “By citing English common law over the U.S. Constitution all defendants have violated their oath of office.”
Baldauf notes, “The Constitution does not grant rights, it secures them. In Miranda vs. Arizona found, ‘Where rights are secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making no legislation which would abrogate them.’ Again, if there had been something to site in our own Constitution to support the position it would have never sited English Law. Here is a quote “For too long our rights have been eroded in the shadows. Judges, lawyers and legislators ignore our rights for the benefit of their own absolute power over the people. The only way to stop it is to shine the brightest of lights on it and make this fight a very public one.”
Part III will show the sequence of actions the FLDOR took against Baldauf.