To err is human, and sometimes bills slip through the cracks despite knowing the time has come to pay your tax bill and having all the mechanisms available to pay (online, by mail, in person). Misunderstandings, lost checks, and computer issues—all of these can lead to a dispute. Unfortunately, in quite a few counties, the punishment is to be publicly outed for lapse in payment.
For example, Utah County, Utah publishes delinquent taxpayers’ names in a delinquent tax list for anyone to search. I call it the “Shame List.” No one is exempt from the Shame List, it includes prominent businesses and people. Any amount of late tax can place you there. Just recently, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah’s tallest building, the Wells Fargo Center, was listed for failing to pay $2.34 million on time. Utah Jazz player Gordon Hayward made the list and even Utah State Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City was named for a whopping $35.42. In addition to being named on the list, taxpayers are subject to late penalties: Utah County imposes a 1 percent penalty on late property tax payments made after November 30th but before January 31st. After January 31st the penalty increases to 2.5 percent, and Utah assesses interest.
Utah County is not alone. Alexandria, Virginia publishes delinquent personal property and real estate business taxpayer accounts for all taxpayers who owe $1,000 or more in delinquent taxes. Shasta County, California published a list in September 2015. Property taxes are not the only type being reported. There are lists for income taxes, withholding tax and sales and use tax. If you owe it, there’s probably a list for it. Some counties go as far as to name the lists “Top 50” or “Top 100.” Cuyahoga County, Ohio, affectionately named their top 12 tax delinquencies “The Dirty Dozen,” who collectively owe the county over 29 million in unpaid real estate taxes.
Ed Fitzgerald, a Cuyahoga County executive indicated in a 2011 press release that the list will bring additional scrutiny to the worst tax evaders, which will eventually yield to additional revenue for schools and local governments. Policymakers who establish the lists have a common goal of bringing fairness to the taxpayers and raising revenue.
Let this serve as a warning to avoid the humiliation of being called out by your county tax collector online. Check your local assessor’s website for notice dates, set a reminder on your smart phone, share this blog with a friend whom you suspect might need help, and for goodness sake, pay your tax bill.
Continue the discussion on Bloomberg BNA’s State Tax Group on LinkedIn: Should counties publish delinquent taxpayer lists?
For more information about state tax issues, sign up for a free trial on Bloomberg BNA’s Premier State Tax Library.
By Cynthia N. Wells
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)