Unpaid taxes mean loss of licenses

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New York City is known as a place where you don’t necessarily need a car to get around. Still, regardless of where in the Empire State you live, if you have a state-issued driver license, you want to make sure it’s still good.

To do that, New Yorkers, you’d better pay your state tax bills.

In August 2013, New York began cracking down on tax delinquents by notifying around 17,700 of them of the possible suspension of their licenses to drive if they owed more than $10,000.

This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that nearly 9,000 New Yorkers have temporarily lost their licenses. Along with 8,900 license suspensions, another 6,500 New Yorkers paid their tax debts in full or are paying their overdue taxes via payment plans.

Big payback

The license suspension has brought in nearly $56.4 million in state and local taxes, according to the governor’s office. That’s a 34 percent increase over the initial estimate of $42 million.

A taxpayer who drives with a suspended license is subject to arrest and penalties. Those with a suspension can, however, apply for a restricted license that allows them to drive to and from work.

“We are sending a clear message to tax delinquents that they either have to pay the taxes they owe, or face real consequences,” said Cuomo. “For many, this message is getting through, and as a result thousands of people have come forward to do the right thing and find a way to pay their taxes. Those who haven’t are losing their drivers licenses.”

California, Louisiana also suspend licenses

New York is not the first state to take away its residents’ ability to drive legally.

Since 2012, the California Franchise Tax Board has been working with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend driver licenses for individuals who make the Golden State’s list of the top 500 delinquent taxpayers.

Louisiana can suspend or refuse to issue a driver license to individuals who have unpaid tax bills of more than $1,000.

And Pelican State officials don’t stop there. Louisianans also face suspension, revocation and denial of issuance of hunting and fishing licenses if they owe the state more than $500 in taxes.

No hunting or fishing licenses in the home state of the Duck Dynasty? Now that’s serious!

More tax info from Bankrate

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