GAO finds programs that reveal delinquent taxpayers

A survey by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that four states and the District of Columbia currently have programs in place that publicly disclose the names of individuals and businesses that are delinquent in paying income taxes.

Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New Jersey and the district have installed tax delinquent identification programs, all of which differ in legal authority and specific operation, GAO said in a report released last week.

Connecticut, Illinois and the district have approved legislation providing statutory authority for their programs, including confidentiality safeguards, but Montana and New Jersey have not because they agree that tax delinquency is a matter of public record once legal action has been taken.

The report, presented to the Joint Committee on Taxation chaired by Rep. Bill Archer (R-Texas) and co-chaired by Sen. William Roth Jr. (R-Del.), said that none of the existing programs include specific provisions for disclosing the names of taxpayers who fail to file required forms, unless the nonfilers also happen to be delinquent.

Wisconsin and Minnesota also were developing or considering public-disclosure programs, according to the report, which surveyed 24 cities and eight counties in 12 states.

The report is available online through the GAO Web site at www.gao.gov.

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