If You Owe More Than $10,000 To N.Y. State, Expect To Hear Something Soon

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s a new way to get state tax delinquents to cough up the dough. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is launching a program to suspend their driver’s licenses.

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Cuomo is not blowing his own horn but he wants to silence the horns of tax scofflaws. He’s going to suspend the driver’s licenses of any New Yorker who owes more than $10,000 in unpaid taxes, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

His theory is this: tax dollars are earmarked for road upkeep. If you don’t contribute to the upkeep you shouldn’t be able to drive on them, period.

“Driving in New York State is a privilege and New Yorkers support the maintenance of roads and the safety of transportation in New York State through tax revenue, so for folks who are taking advantage of the infrastructure but are not meeting their fair share, that’s a problem,” said Thomas Mattox, Commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

There are 24,000 people in New York who have big unpaid tax bills, but the state is only going after 16,000 because the rest don’t have driver’s licenses, Kramer reported.

The number one tax scofflaw in New York is Michael Zurawin of Putnam County. State officials say he owes $16.7 million.

Next come Roman Sobolevsky of Brooklyn, who owes $7.9 million, and Irving Goldstein of Brooklyn, who owes $7.8 million, officials said.

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Some New Yorkers don’t cry about the really big tax cheats. Together, they are estimated to owe billions, Kramer reported.

“Well, you know they can afford to hire a car,” said David Grosstup of Clinton Hill. “They can get their own car.”

“Well, if you take away my driver’s license I can’t get to work, so I can pay you so that wouldn’t be a good idea. They need to come up with something else,” added Darien Jones of the Upper West Side.

“There’s always two sides of a story. You learn that as a parent of teenage kids, but my instinct based on what you just said makes a lot of sense,” said Ed Yourdon of the Upper West Side.

State officials pointed out that a taxpayer who drives with a suspended license could be arrested and fined. They said the same program has been used in the state of Massachusetts quite effectively since 2008.

In New York, officials hope to recoup $16 million this year alone, Kramer reported.

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