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Should states shame delinquent taxpayers online?
(IDG) -- Maryland has posted its 50 largest tax delinquents online in an attempt to retrieve more than $9.7 million owed in overdue taxes, penalties and interest.
The majority of the 50 businesses and individuals owe upwards of $100,000, and the largest unpaid account is for $626,153. Before the delinquents were posted on the Comptroller's Office World Wide Web site, each was notified by certified mail about their inclusion on the list and also allowed to settle their account before inclusion.
"It's a good inducement to get people to pay," said Michael Golden, spokesperson for the Comptroller Office. "We've tried all the usual methods, and none have worked, so we thought we'd try this method."
Golden said by publicly posting the information, people are inclined to pay simply to avoid embarrassment. Once an individual contacts the office to work out a payment plan, they will be removed from the list.
The list has already worked for some individuals, Golden said. When delinquents were notified about the online postings, the office collected more than $153,000 from seven respondents and received commitments from about 12 others.
The accounts have been unpaid for some time. In each case, a tax lien was filed in the Circuit Court where the taxpayers do business or owns property, and thus there is a recorded court judgment that notifies other creditors of the state's claim.
The accounts were chosen because they don't a seem to have a reason why they shouldn't be paid ÷ none are in bankruptcy or on active payment plans to settle their debts.
The site will be updated about once a month, Golden said.
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