March 23, 2014

Editorial: New York serious about tax evaders

Tax evaders beware. New York state is serious about pulling your state operating license if you don’t pay your taxes.

And if you don’t believe it, read this: Licenses of nearly 9,000 tax evaders have been suspended and $56 million has been collected, far exceeding projections by 34 percent, all since August of last year.

The crackdown is the result of legislation signed into law last year aimed at encouraging individuals who owe more than $10,000 in back taxes to settle their bills with the Tax Department.

It reinforces a clear message to tax delinquents that they either have to pay the taxes they owe, or face real consequences. And that’s a good thing.

“Driver licenses are a privilege, not a right, and this program has prompted unprecedented action from tax delinquents who were otherwise ignoring their debt,” says the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

In the first round of notifications, more than 17,700 drivers were contacted beginning in August 2013. Along with the 8,900 suspensions, 6,500 tax debtors have either paid in full or are making payments on their debt, while 2,300 were determined to be ineligible for suspension.

As a result of the program, tax collections increased nearly $56.4 million on a state and local basis — a 34 percent increase over the initial estimate of $42 million. The program will continue to raise millions of dollars annually as thousands of other debtors are notified and, ultimately, resolve their debt.

When a driver gets a license suspension notice from the Tax Department, he or she have 60 days from the mailing date to arrange payment. If the taxpayer fails to do so, the DMV sends a second letter providing an additional 15 days to respond. If the delinquent taxpayer again fails to make contact, the agency is authorized to suspend the license until the debt is paid or a payment plan is arranged.

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