State Posts Delinquent Taxpayer Info Online

Employees at the Savannah regional office of the Georgia Department of Revenue say they're here to help taxpayers understand the system, especially during tax time. "We actually have revenue agents that work on taxpayer assistance," explained taxpayer assistance worker Timothy Lacroix. "We generally during the tax season that we're in right now have two agents on."

They're also responsible for collection when taxpayers fall behind. "We will work with people," said Lacroix. "We want people not to have this on their backs, we want to take care of it. But we want to make sure Georgia is taken care of as well."

To help, the department has launched a new feature on its website, providing lists of the most delinquent businesses and individuals. Several hundred of the most delinquent taxpayers in the state, including some right in our area, are now listed by name on the department's website.

"The vast majority of taxes are paid voluntarily as they should be. Delinquent taxpayers certainly don't want their names out there," said regional manager Cynthia Cyr. "That's just not what they had in mind when they got behind on their taxes. And it's usually not intentional. These are people who think they'll catch up, this is just a bad time. But we're simply not a good lender anymore. They need to find someone else to owe money to other than the State of Georgia."

This information has always been publicly available, but it used to mean a trip to the county courthouse and some research. Now it's just a whole lot easier to get to.

"The goal is not to embarrass anyone, that's not the idea of it," said Cyr. "The goal is to put the information out there more readily available to the public and hope that the taxpayers who are involved in these posted cases would come forward and take care of their debt."

Officials point out that lending institutions and other businesses already make it a practice to check into this information.

"The liens are already a part of public record and if they were trying to get financing of some kind, the lending institution would already have looked at the execution docket in the counties they were trying to get loans in," said Cyr. "So the downside, I really don't know that there's an additional downside for the taxpayer other than the fact that now, his neighbors might know that he owes taxes."

Which just might translate into an upside for the state of Georgia.

Reported by: Charles Gray,