New Law Would Create a New York State Web Site of Shame for Tax Delinquents

Tax dodgers beware!
April 14, 2009
A new bill (A.7381) introduced by Assemblyman William Colton aims to publish the names of New York’s top 250 tax delinquent businesses and individuals on a New York State Tax and Finance website.

New York State would follow the lead of over a dozen other states that are currently publishing the names of tax delinquents or considering a similar measure

Shame them. That is the message Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) is sending through a new bill he is introducing that directs the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to publish the names of New York’s top 250 tax delinquent businesses and individuals on a new state website.

“When we in government are asking working families to sacrifice more and more during this difficult economic downturn, we need to first make sure that everyone is already paying their fair share,” declared Assemblyman William Colton, who is a member of the powerful New York State Assembly Ways and Means committee. “This website identifies money already owed to New York and this revenue can mean the difference between keeping hospitals and schools open or closed,” the Assemblyman continued.

Under the new measure, individuals and businesses that have had a tax delinquency judgment ruled against them would be notified by certified mail that their names qualify to be placed on the state website. Tax delinquents will have 60 days to respond to the Department of Taxation and Finance before their names become published. Individuals and businesses that provide evidence of paying their debt in full, opting into a payment plan, or declaring bankruptcy would be exempt from the list. Those individuals and businesses that owe less than $5,000 would also be exempt from having their names posted on the website.

In a news release dated December 2008, Delaware Division of Revenue Director Patrick Carter stated, “The Delinquent Taxpayer site has been an extremely helpful tool for Delaware as we push to collect outstanding tax debt.” Director Carter noted in the release that Delaware had collected over $3.3 million in less than two years since they began publishing the top 100 tax delinquents in their state. Given the fact that the population in New York State trumps the population of Delaware by over 18 million people, New York stands to collect a significantly higher amount of revenue.

The state of Georgia has collected over $57.8 million since it began publishing names of tax delinquents in 2004. California has collected over $5.7 million just last year as it also posts the top 250 tax dodgers. New York State stands to redeem hundreds of millions of dollars under this measure.

Assemblyman Colton also believes that the website could possibly reduce costs for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance as they generally must hire collection agencies to collect outstanding tax debt. The website could be a strong motivational tool for individuals and businesses looking to resolve their debt and remove the need to hire collection agencies.

New York stands to follow the lead of over a dozen other states that already place public scorn on tax delinquents. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina and Rhode Island, among other states, have already adopted a similar measure.