Officials making plans to compile necessary data.
The Macon County tax office has procured new software that will allow them to better identify and collect delinquent taxes. In accordance with North Carolina General Statute §105-368, the county is responsible for identifying delinquent taxpayers in the county and take the appropriate actions to collect the taxes.
“We have followed N.C.G.S. §105-368 for years when using enforced collections,” explained Teresa McDowell. “We have used it to garnish N.C. Dept. of Revenue Tax returns, wages, rent proceeds, escheat accounts and bank accounts, and have done wage garnishments on more than one occasion. However, since we have such a small staff, we were never able to do them on a large scale. With the procurement of this new software, we will be able to do wage garnishments on a larger scale.”
N.C.G.S. §105-368 is part of the Machinery Act of North Carolina, which is the property tax law of the state, and was established in 1939.
In order to utilize the new software, McDowell explained that the Macon County tax collector's office has requested that employers in Macon County who have employees residing in the county compile a list of information on each employee. The tax collector's office is requesting that employers provide an alphabetical list of complete names and addresses of current employees. “The information we obtain will be used for tax purposes only and will be kept strictly confidential,” reads the notification to employers. “Social Security numbers are requested in order to insure correct name matching only, but are not required.”
McDowell said the requested information will help the new software begin building its data base. “For us to do that, we have to build a data base of employee information for employees who pay taxes in Macon County (or who, in this case, refuse to pay the taxes owed to Macon County),” explained McDowell. “That is why we are requesting the employee information. We have requested this type information before, but have always had to approach one employer at a time, do the garnishment process and then move on to another employer. Employers have always been cooperative, because I think those who pay their taxes feel that is only fair that those who are unwilling to pay are pressured to pay theirs.”
While the collection process has been going on for several years, McDowell said that the request is in compliance with the statute. “The statutes are very specific about the requirements of employers, with N.C.G.S. §105-368(a) dictating the process for collecting delinquent taxes, stating, ‘the tax collector may attach wages and other compensation, rents, bank deposits, the proceeds of property subject to levy, or any other intangible personal property ...’ and also states that ‘in the case of property due the taxpayer or to become due to him within the current calendar year, the person owing the property (property meaning rents, wages etc.) to the taxpayer or having the property in his possession shall be liable for the taxes to the extent of the amount he owes or has in his possession,’” cited Mc- Dowell. “The statute goes on to state that (i)(1) ‘any person who, after written demand therefore, refuses to give the tax collector or assessor a list of names and addresses of all of his employees who may be liable for taxes, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor” and (i)(2) states that … the tax collector may not release or furnish that list to any other person, and may not use that list except in the furtherance of the collection and foreclosure of taxes.’”
McDowell clarified that while information is being requested of all employees in the county, the statute is designed to identify those who have not paid their taxes. “One of the important things to remember here is that this process only applies to those who owe delinquent taxes and have thus far refused to pay,” she said. “In other words, they have received bills, second notices, tag blocks, etc. depending upon the type of tax owed, and their taxes remain outstanding. Diligent taxpayers who pay their taxes on time are not affected by this process at all, and any information received will only be used to attempt collection of delinquent taxes.”
According to McDowell, this process is currently being used for tax collections in Macon County, the Town of Highlands, and the Town of Franklin for motor vehicle taxes. The statute also allows Macon County offices to contact tax offices in other counties to serve garnishments for people who may work or live in a different county but owe Macon County taxes.
Employees who are found to be delinquent on their taxes will be contacted by the tax collector's office and given an opportunity to make payment arrangements before a wage garnishment is sought, explained McDowell. “The contact will be in writing. If is becomes necessary to submit the garnishment, the employer will also be notified in writing,” she said. “A wage garnishment is limited to ten percent of any compensation for any one pay period. The garnishment will stay in place until the tax bill is paid in full.”