California’s Enhanced Tax Revenue Collection Efforts

The California legislature is considering a bill that would allow the Franchise Tax Board (the FTB) to suspend occupational and professional licenses because of unpaid income tax liabilities and notify the applicable licensing agency of the suspension.

The bill would allow the FTB to suspend an individual’s occupational or professional license because of unpaid income tax liabilities. The FTB would suspend a license only after the following have been provided to the debtor:

Notice of State Income Tax Due,

Final Notice Before Levy,

Order To Withhold (OTW) is issued (if debtor’s bank information is available to the FTB),

Notice of State Tax Lien (issued when a state tax lien is recorded),

60-day preliminary suspension notice.

The FTB would be allowed The FTB to disclose to the licensing boards the reason for the suspension – unpaid taxes.

The FTB staff would provide a hearing, upon request, for license holders who would experience a financial hardship as a result of the suspension.

This bill would define the following:

“Hardship” means financial hardship, as determined by the FTB, where the licensee is financially unable to pay any part of their taxes including penalties, interest, and applicable fees and is unable to qualify for an installment payment arrangement pursuant to Section 19008 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

“License” includes certificate, registration, or any other authorization to engage in a business or profession issued by a state governmental licensing entity.

“Licensee” means any individual authorized by a license, certificate, registration, or other authorization to engage in a business or profession issued by a state governmental licensing entity.

The bill would allow the Contractors State License Board and the FTB to have concurrent authority to suspend a contractor’s license.

This bill requires licensing boards to provide the FTB information at a time requested by the FTB.

This bill would allow a limited hearing for license holders with outstanding tax liabilities as of the date of enactment to substantiate that the license holder has paid the tax liability reflected in the notice of state tax lien.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

The revenue impact of this bill would depend on the number of delinquent taxpayers that possess an occupational or professional license. This estimate was calculated using the actual account balances of the department’s accounts receivables for the affected taxpayers, excluding accounts in bankruptcy and installment agreements. Taxpayers subject to this proposal are those with an outstanding liability of $1,000 or more and have owed that debt for one year or more.

It is estimated that 17,200 taxpayers with occupational and professional licenses will enter the collection process annually. Of the 17,200 taxpayers, it is estimated 38%, or 6,600, are expected to pay their delinquent debts upon notice from the FTB. Current departmental data indicates the average payment amount for compliant taxpayers would be approximately $2,000, resulting in an annual revenue increase of approximately $13 million (6,600 x $2,000 = $13.2 million). The average payment amount was calculated by the amount of payments made in response to filing enforcement notices.

Current departmental data also indicates unresolved cases of approximately 25,000 delinquent taxpayers with occupational and professional licenses in the collection process. Based on the 25,000 taxpayers, it is estimated that nearly 9,500 taxpayers would comply upon notice from the FTB resulting in a revenue increase of $19 million in the first year ($2,000 x 9,500 = $19 million). The revenue for fiscal year ending 2009-10 is estimated to total $32 million ($19 million + $13 million).

It is assumed that 50 percent of the $32 million would be collected in fiscal year 2009-2010, reducing revenue to $16 million. The remaining $16 million from fiscal year 2009-10 would be collected in 2010-11, in addition to the $13 million that is assessed annually, for a revenue impact of $29 million ($16 million + $13 million = $29 million) in 2010-11. Thereafter, the annual fiscal impact of $13 million would be collected. Because the revenue from this bill would be from tax liabilities from prior years, the estimates in the table are all accrued back one year.

If you are having an income tax collection problem with the FTB, call a tax attorney: call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259 for help.