If you owe the state more than $10,000 in back taxes, your driver’s license may be suspended, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.
The new program was introduced as part of the governor’s budget proposal in January and was adopted into law. It is expected to increase state tax collections by $26 million this fiscal year and up to $6 million annually in future years.
“Our message is simple: tax scofflaws who don’t abide by the same rules as everyone else are not entitled to the same privileges as everyone else,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These worst offenders are putting an unfair burden on the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who are hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers. By enacting these additional consequences, we’re providing additional incentives for the state to receive the money it is owed and we’re keeping scofflaws off the very roads they refuse to pay their fair share to maintain.”
In an informal Tax Watch poll in January, 74.4 percent of readers said they didn’t think the state should have the authority to suspend people’s driver’s licenses because they owed more than $10,000 in back taxes. Eighteen percent said it provided a needed incentives to get taxpayers to pony up what they owe. The rest responded “other” or said they weren’t sure about suspending driver’s licenses.
“It’s in every taxpayer’s best interest to pay all tax bills in full,” Thomas Mattox, state commissioner of taxation and finance, said in a statement. ”If you can’t pay in full, our staff is available to help you arrange a payment plan that will satisfy your debt.”
The Tax Department is sending the first round of 16,000 suspension notices to delinquent taxpayers, who have 60 days from the mailing date to arrange payment. If that doesn’t happen, the state Department of Motor Vehicles will sending a second letter providing an additional 15 days to respond. Taxpayers who don’t pay up will lose their driver’s licenses. They can apply for restricted driver’s licenses, which allow them to drive to work only.
Taxpayers can call the Department of Taxation and Finance at 518-862-6000 to settle a tax debt or arrange a payment plan.
Almost all taxes in New York — 96 percent — are paid by businesses and individuals who voluntarily meet their tax responsibilities. The remaining 4 percent is collected through the Tax Department’s audit, collections and criminal investigations programs.