Normally “first place” is a position that many aspire to. Unless you occupy the first spot on California’s Top 250 Delinquent Taxpayers list.
California tax collectors (employees of the Franchise Tax Board) have a reputation for being, how shall we say this, . . . very zealous in their duties. The FTB stops at nothing to collect overdue taxes, even rivaling the efforts and tactics of the IRS. One of the ways California encourages tax compliance is by publishing its annual “Top 250 Delinquent Taxpayers” list on its website as a type of public shaming exercise. Right now the winners are Halsey & Shannon Minor of Los Angeles who owe exactly $14,247,341.09 in personal income taxes. Apparently nobody in the entire state of California owes more state taxes than they do.
But even if you’re at the bottom of the list, the consequences are the same. And now, with the passage of AB 1421, it’s more than just the tax bill and the shame. Consequences now include having your drivers license, and possibly professional license, suspended. Also, the list will be doubled so that it includes the top 500 worst offenders. The author of the bill, Henry Perea, has strong words for California’s top 500:
Everyone on this list has had a chance to work with the state to resolve their tax issues but have chosen instead to bury their heads in the sand and continue to spend lavishly.
But I wonder how accurate that statement is. According to the FTB website, the only criteria for inclusion on the list is that the taxpayer owes over $100,000 and falls into the top 250 (now 500). The oldest tax liens were filed in 1996, but many of them were just filed last year. At any rate, California has sent a clear message to the wealthiest taxpayers in the elite neighborhoods of LA and San Francisco. Now they should try to get that message to the masses to make it really effective.