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Raleigh man irked after back taxes deducted from his bank account

Posted September 28, 2011

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— Wake County has one of the highest tax collection rates in the state at 98.8 percent, but one of the methods used to get that money has angered a Raleigh man.

So far this year, the county Revenue Department has collected more than $17 million in delinquent taxes, including $3.4 million from seizing property and $2.8 million through garnisheed wages.

The method that produced the largest return, at $7.6 million, is probably the simplest, but at least one man is stunned that it is legal – deducting money directly from a personal bank account.

"Who are they to go into my bank account?" said Stephen LaPierre, who found that the county had taken about $600 from his Bank of America account for past-due taxes on two vehicles.

LaPierre sold a Chevy Tahoe in early 2010, but he never notified the county, which expected his property tax payment on the SUV.

"If I did get something (like a tax notice), I probably dismissed it," he said Wednesday. "(I thought) 'Oh, I sold that vehicle. I don't owe any tax on that.'"

Revenue collectors saw it differently and went to his bank. Bank of America even tacked on a $100 fee.

Wake Revenue Director Marcus Kinrade said aggressive tax collection is vital, considering that there are more than 740,000 vehicles registered in the county.

Wake County vehicle tax notice Counties can deduct back taxes from personal bank accounts

"It's not fair to the people who pay their property taxes on time for us not to collect taxes from those who don't want to pay on time," Kinrade said. "The tax collector has a lot of teeth to collect delinquent taxes."

The county also collected taxes that were 20 days overdue on a Mercedes that LaPierre still owns. Revenue officials were able to access his bank account because he had paid taxes with a check before, so they knew his account number.

"It seems to cross the line. You feel kind of violated in that way," LaPierre said.

He said he takes responsibility for his past-due bills, but he believes he and other taxpayers deserve more communication.

"There was no real notification. There wasn't a constant, 'Hey, you owe us for a Tahoe,'" he said.

Wake County generally sends out the bill and one delinquent letter, Kinrade said, adding that the county doesn't have the resources to coax everyone to pay on time. About 97 percent of county property and vehicle taxes are paid on time, he said.

"We don't enjoy in any way using heavy-handed tactics to collect taxes," he said. "We don't enjoy it. It's not fun, but it's our job."

The Revenue Department will work with taxpayers who notify officials that they are having trouble paying what they owe, he said. The county usually sets up an extended payment plan in such cases.

All county tax offices in North Carolina are scheduled to be linked to the state Division of Motor Vehicles by 2013, allowing the DMV to block registration renewals on vehicles with delinquent taxes. Kinrade said that should help resolve some collection issues.

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  • garychapelhill Sep 29, 2011

    Sounds like those of you who normally say government workers are lazy and incompetent are complaining now when a government agency is actually effective and efficient. A 98.8% collection rate is pretty darn good if you ask me. And kudos to them for using every method at their disposal to get deadbeats like the guy in this story to pay their taxes.

  • storchheim Sep 29, 2011

    Con Amor...you made your point. WHY WHY WHY you have to do it that way is because that's the way the law is written. If you don't like it, contact your reps to have it changed. But you sound like a 5 year old.

  • storchheim Sep 29, 2011

    Govt tax entities can and do make mistakes. It can be murder trying to get your money back.

    Consider this when you're sizing up Presidential candidates, and don't be too quick to dismiss Fair Tax/Flat Tax/whatever does away with the IRS candidates.

  • storchheim Sep 29, 2011

    tim11967, one step to take is when you see hard times coming, start cutting back. Cancel the cable. Cancel the cell phones. Stop eating out. Do your own yard. If you must buy something, buy used.

    Then start working with your creditors IMMEDIATELY. If you have a mortgage, try to get it refinanced. Call the landlord and try to work something out. If you're honest and give plenty of notice, your creditors may be able to work with you. No guarantees, but that's life. Don't wait till you're past due and have no options. There's free credit counseling available too.

    Finally, as a way of life, pay your bills on time every time. If you have a history of stepping up to your obligations you'll find that you'll have much more credibility and won't be considered as much a risk. I'd trust someone who had a patch of 60-90 days late during a certain short period than someone who's 30 days late several times each year.

  • griper1 Sep 29, 2011

    does this happen when big businesses don,t pay their taxes?? just wondering...

  • jdwill1971 Sep 29, 2011

    I live in a rual nc county. Honestly, tell me what they provide for me? wdclark

    =======================================================

    These are Wake County Taxes. If you live in a county, your taxes are paying for that i.e.: the Wake County Sheriff's department. The breakdown of where your tax dollars go is on the bill.

  • FE Sep 29, 2011

    "Call tax people, they basicly said they could care less, couldn't get the taxes from sweetheart, so they robbed me. Moral of the story...." -- wdclark

    Actually, the "moral of the story" is you WERE (per the title) still the legal owner of the vehicle and therefore also liable for any unpaid taxes on that vehicle.

    The logical solution was simply to reissue the title at the time of divorce.

    "Bad planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on mine" or something like that.

    But on a brighter note, your ex cannot sell the jointly-owned car without your signature on the title. Perhaps you can collect from her then?

  • delilahk2000 Sep 29, 2011

    HE SHOULD HAVE PAID THEM WHEN DUE, LIKE I DO......

  • wdclark Sep 29, 2011

    "Property taxes are used for the counties/cities to provide necessary services."

    I live in a rual nc county. Honestly, tell me what they provide for me?

  • garychapelhill Sep 29, 2011

    "Said the British monarchs to the Colonial Americans..."

    Another teanutter who knows nothing about history. Ever heard of "taxation without representation"? That's why we had a revolution, not just because we were being taxed. Last I checked the General Assembly who makes the laws regarding collections, along with local municipalities that levy taxes, are elected by the people of this state. If you have a problem with it, go vote, or better yet run yourself. Till then stop whining!

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