If you’ve hired a painter to work on or in your home, he or she should have charged you the state’s sales tax. Senator Brad Zaun raised the issue Tuesday during Senate debate.

“I am not advocating for people not to pay their taxes,” Zaun said. But Zaun argued the state’s top tax official should be given the authority to waive interest charged to painters and other Iowans involved in disputes with the state over unpaid state taxes.

“The director does not have discretion to waive interest in situations where they believe it was just an honest mistake,” Zaun said. The director of the Iowa Department of Revenue does have the authority to waive any penalties or fines assessed in such cases, however. Zaun learned of this situation with painters when a man who moved from California to Iowa told Zaun about his tax case.

“He did not realize that he needed to charge sales tax on the services and the labor that he performed,” Zaun said. Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, spoke out giving the Department of Revenue director authority to waive interest charges in all back-tax cases, not just those involving painters.

“We are the Iowa Senate, we are part of the legislative body. I’m not sure giving a lot of authority to an unelected bureaucrat is the way we should move in this situation,” Dvorsky said. “I think that’s way beyond the authority the department director should (have).” The Senate voted 25 to 23, a party-line vote, and rejected Zaun’s proposal.

The decision came during debate on a catch-all bill that included a wide-variety of policy and spending proposals.