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The Game Trail

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A cheat is a cheat no matter what they do

We have had a large increase in our population here in Bonner County over the last decade. Some of these folks are part-time Idaho residents, returning to their home state for the better part of the year. So what state do they claim as their resident state for tax purposes and privileges? That question often arises when folks purchase Idaho hunting and fishing licenses because we have a resident and a non-resident class license.

The main difference between the two classes is the price. For example, a resident class hunting license costs $12.75 compared to the non-resident class license at $141.50. Obviously a big difference in prisce, tempting many people to falsely claim they are Idaho residents to hunt or fish. It is a misdemeanor to possess a resident class license when you do not qualify as an Idaho resident. This is known as a wrong class license purchase. So how do you know if you qualify as an Idaho resident?

Proof of residency is required before issuance of any resident license. The license vendors have to see an Idaho driver’s license to issue you a resident license. Please do not give the vendors a hard time as they are following state law, and may risk losing their vendorship if they don’t comply.

What is the legal definition of an Idaho resident? It is defined as any person who has been domiciled in the state of Idaho, with a bona fide intent to make Idaho their place of permanent abode, for a period of not less than six months immediately preceding the date of application for any license, tag or permit. To put it in plain language, you must be permanently residing in Idaho, and you must be here for 6 months prior to purchasing a hunting or fishing license.

So what can you show to prove you are an Idaho resident? An Idaho driver must show their Idaho driver’s license to the vendor as I stated above. A non-driver must produce suitable proof of residency such as an Idaho Identification Card issued by the Department of Transportation, or two documents bearing his/her name and address. For example you could use a rent receipt, power bill in your name with an address, or a mortgage statement. Some people try to use a past hunting or fishing license to show residency; this is not acceptable, and it is illegal. A vendor should never be using prior hunting or fishing licenses to issue a new one.

Consider yourself a non-resident of Idaho if you have a driver’s license in another state. Also, if you move to Idaho and want to be a resident you have 30 days to register your vehicle and get an Idaho driver’s license. If you are registered to vote in another state you are not a resident of Idaho. Additionally, if you file taxes as a resident in another state, or claim a homeowner’s exemption in another state you are a non-resident of Idaho. Ownership of real property or payment of property taxes in Idaho alone does not establish residency.

There is one exception to the above rules and that applies to active duty military personnel, their spouses, and their children under 18 living at home. After 30 days of being permanently stationed and present in Idaho, they may purchase a resident license.

So what’s the big deal? Cheating, that’s the big deal. People who are cheating the system are costing the state of Idaho a lot of money. Say what? You don’t care? Let me rephrase that - they are stealing from you, the resident of Idaho. For example, a resident can purchase a Sportsman Package for $117.25. For those who don’t hunt or fish, this allows the person to have every over-the-counter tag and license in Idaho! It’s a really amazing deal! It would cost a non-resident well over $1,000 for the same product. So when that thief fraudulently claims Idaho residency as they purchase a Sportsman Package, they are stealing over a thousand dollars from your Fish and Game Department. And folks, this happens fairly often. I’m looking intently at a file on my desk with over 78 people in Bonner County that I need to investigate and interview for purchasing a wrong class license.

Game wardens across the state constantly battle the problem of wrong class license purchases. However, the fight gets better ever year as technology improves. We have great information sharing across agencies such as the Idaho Tax Commission, the county Assessor’s Office, and the Department of Transportation. With the information that is shared we can bring these thieves to justice for wrong class license purchases and, in some cases, much more.

Sometimes we find the individual is not only stealing from the IDFG, but also they are cheating on property and income taxes as well. Not surprising though, a cheat is a cheat no matter what they do. When we catch these cheaters they are issued citations just like any other violator. In many instances these folks are paying thousands of dollars in fines and restitution to the state.

Please, if you have any doubt about your residency status, call the IDFG regional office or call your local game warden. If you know someone who is claiming Idaho residency that shouldn’t be, please report those thieves like any other poacher to your local officer or the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 800-632-5999.

The snow is going to be flying before you know it. Get the kids and out of the house and go check on your favorite huckleberry patch, or hit your favorite fishing hole. Respect the resource, follow the rules, and make sure you purchase the correct class license.

Leave No Child Inside

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Author info

Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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