The Commonwealth of Virginia has decided it no longer will extend
Southern courtesy to one sector of its residents.
Delinquent taxpayers in the Old Dominion now are being exposed in an effort to collect long overdue taxes.
Virginia's Department of Revenue became the latest office to publish the names of tax scofflaws on the Internet.
The state unveiled its pilot program last week, a Web site list of 11 businesses that owe substantial back taxes, penalties and interest. State officials say the companies have not responded to several attempts to collect this money and that more names will be added to the list.
"Many other states have found this to be an inexpensive yet very effective tool in collecting unpaid taxes," said Tax Commissioner Janie Bowen. "Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes and this is money that the state should have received a long time ago."
Across the Potomac, Maryland officials have collected over $14 million since its Web disclosure began in 2000.
Other states with lists of delinquent business, individual or both types of taxpayers include:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
State officials say the lists don't violate privacy laws because tax delinquents are a matter of public record. The online postings simply make it easier for the public to see the records of taxpayers who have tax liens.
States also note that they give businesses and individual taxpayers several opportunities to settle their accounts before posting their names.
Tax deadbeats around the world: Public tax outing is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Earlier this year, Portuguese officials announced that the country would begin publishing the names of its biggest tax cheats. The move came after the Iberian Peninsula nation was pressured by the European Union to reduce its public deficit.
Portugal is owed 17 billion euros ($26 billion U.S. $) in income and corporate taxes. It plans to publish the names of debtors owing more than 50,000 euros ($63,619 as of this morning's exchange rate) in personal income tax, or more than 200,000 euros (almost $255,000 U.S.) in corporate taxes, from 2004 or earlier tax years.
The Portuguese government, however, is not counting on shame alone to get the overdue money. Portugal plans to hire 380 new tax inspectors this year.
Whatever in Wisconsin: Of course, sometimes the shame doesn't matter, to either the tax delinquent or his official pursuers.
Channel 27, the local ABC affiliate in Madison, Wisc., reported that state officials there contracted with a lawn and tree company to do work on the State Capitol grounds despite its presence on the state's online list of Wisconsin's 100 worst tax delinquents.
The Web site lists the tax debt of Dennis Harrington's lawn and tree business at $433,686.
Division of State Facilities Building Superintendent William Beckman told 27 News that the firm was selected over two other bidding companies because, "We took the low bid."