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Pay your NY taxes or park your car

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

If you owe New York taxes, be prepared to park your car.

The state has instituted a program under which tax delinquents could have their New York driver's licenses suspended.

OK, technically you must owe the Empire State a lot of taxes, specifically more than $10,000. Apparently there are enough New Yorkers who owe large amounts to make the effort worthwhile.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office says that there are 16,000 tax scofflaws whose unpaid bills amount to $26 million in the current fiscal year that runs through March 31, 2014. The state expects the license suspension program to bring in as much as $6 million annually after this initial collection push.

New Yorkers who receive a notice will have a total of 75 days to make payment arrangements or they will lose their license to drive.

"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 announcing the tax collection effort.

'Worst offenders' targeted

The governor's argument is that these "worst offenders" are unfairly burdening New Yorkers who do pay their tax bills. The loss of a driver's license, said Cuomo, will keep "scofflaws off the very roads they refuse to pay their fair share to maintain."

They also will lose a key piece of ID necessary to buy an alcoholic beverage or board an airplane.

The state notes, however, that folks with suspended licenses can apply to get a restricted license for ID purposes which will allow them to drive to and from work.

If you want an idea of who might soon be taking the bus or train or catching rides with friends, you can check the New York Department of Taxation and Finance's list of the top 250 individual tax delinquents.

There are some impressive, for all the wrong reasons, tax debt amounts there. Topping the list is a Putnam County resident whom the state says owes it $16.7 million.

Unfair or necessary?

As expected, many New Yorkers are crying foul.

Really?

I'm not a constitutional scholar and I've only lived in three states and Washington, D.C., but I don't think any jurisdiction guarantees its residents life, liberty and a license to drive.

That's a privilege you earn by passing tests -- or are supposed to pass; judging from folks I've seen on the roads, I have my doubts. But I digress.

If you owe tax money, especially if you owe the treasury more than 10 grand, you need to focus on that and quit whining about losing legal access to your auto.

***

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You also can follow me on Twitter @taxtweet.

Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and a co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."

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