Rep.-elect Bill Orton said he will retain an attorney to continue his fight against the Utah Tax Commission in a sales-tax dispute.

"It appears I probably will not have the time personally to go in and represent myself again," he said in a telephone interview Thursday from Washington, where he was meeting with congressional leaders and looking for a place to live."I am not just going to walk away from it," he said. "It's a matter of principle."

He wants an "independent body to decide whether I owe the tax. If I do, it's been paid. If not, they owe me a refund."

The Tax Commission concluded in 1987 and 1989 that he failed to pay sales tax on an automobile purchased, titled and registered in Oregon - which does not have a sales tax - and later operated in Utah.

Orton contended he had a residence in Oregon.

"The titling and registration of the vehicle in Oregon by the petitioner was an attempt to fraudulently evade Utah taxes," according to the final commission decision dated March 7, 1989. That decision upheld the assessment of the sales tax and a 100 percent fraud penalty, plus interest, spokeswoman Janice Perry said.

The commission also contends Orton has exhausted his avenues of appeal with the commission.

"I believe the Tax Commission is wrong about the tax penalty and liability, and wrong on its determination about the appeal process," said Orton, a Salt Lake City-based tax attorney.