ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Department of Revenue has dunned 154,300 taxpayers for a total of nearly $395 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
The department has collected $1.2 million mailed by 4,000 taxpayers, department spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said last week. She didn’t know how many paid online, or how much they paid.
The Legislature gave the department an extra $5 million this year to hire people and add technology for the more aggressive tax collections.
And Gov. Phil Bryant has noted that his fiscal 2014 budget includes $3.5 million to continue the push to collect overdue taxes.
Waterbury said the department has received numerous calls from people questioning the statements. She said checks find the statements match original tax returns.
“We have received a lot of phone calls, mostly from people with older liabilities that either forgot they owed, or hoped we had forgotten,” she said. She said the main reason people forgot was that the state didn’t have the money to keep reminding them. Even a taxpayer’s death doesn’t cancel the debt, she said.
State options to collect unpaid taxes include garnishing wages, filing tax liens, denying homestead exemptions, keeping future income tax refunds that might be owed to a person and intercepting federal income tax refunds.
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