BOISE -- A federal judge has cleared the way for the Internal Revenue Service to foreclose on former state Rep. Phil Hart's northern Idaho home over years of unpaid taxes.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled last week that Hart, a Republican from Athol, was still the true owner of the log home and that his attempt to transfer the property to a trust was ineffective. The judge also said Hart couldn't claim a head of household tax exemption because he had no dependents.

Hart stopped filing income tax returns in 1996 while he pursued a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal income tax. He lost the lawsuit and the IRS is seeking to collect more than half a million dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest.

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