taxes

Taxpayer online halls of shame

Did you pay your federal taxes April 15? What about your state tax bill?

If you live in California, your failure to pony up could get you on the state's delinquent taxpayer list. And that list is public.

The California Franchise Tax Board has been posting the names of the state's top 250 tax derelicts on its Web site since 2007. This year, among the famous tax delinquents are actor Burt Reynolds, comedian/actor Sinbad, and singer Dionne Warwick.

Sinbad, whose last name is Adkins, owes $2.5 million. Warwick owes $2.18 million. Reynolds is overdue on a $225,000 bill.

A tax lien was filed against Sinbad in 2001. But Warwick's and Reynolds' obligations, reports the Los Angeles Times, date to the 1990s.

That's actually a pretty tame list for Tinseltown, but I guess it shows that the public shaming approach is working. At least that's the assessment of Golden State tax officials.

Tax board spokesman John Barrett told the Honolulu Advertiser that California legislators hoped to collect $5 million annually when they enacted the program. So far this year, it's generated $14 million.

So why is a Hawaiian newspaper interested in California's public tax scofflaw list? Because our 50th state is posting its own delinquents list April 24.

A note to the curious: The state's tax department Web site is having problems loading. Maybe early tax gawkers are crashing it, or perhaps the site is down to add the new data.

It's just the latest in a growing list of states who find that publicizing tax delinquents, individuals and companies, helps them collect some overdue taxes.

Among jurisdictions posting tax shame lists are Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Washinton, D.C.

You can see if your state also is taking the public tax shame route by checking its tax department Web site. And you can find those online addresses in Bankrate's state tax roundup.

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