The Pennsylvania Revenue Department is broadcasting ads designed to scare the hell out of overdue taxpayers. The state hopes to collect $190 million in negligent tax funds. This ad might be coming to Oregon as State Auditors recently recommended new ways to go after Oregon’s 66,000 delinquent taxpayers (see Business Report story here).
This ad is wrong headed in light of success stories.
There are over 40 states that have implemented some form of tax amnesty program. These programs can work wonders at recovering revenue. Connecticut’s program set out to recapture $24 million and brought in $109 million.
The State Auditor’s Office has recommended to Oregon’s Department fo Revenue an upgrade in technology to help improve communication between their office and taxpayers and create more opportunities for late taxpayers to resolve their back payments.
The Pennsylvania ads create a feeling that government is always watching them. Furthermore, the ads trample upon a very sacred trust people have with their government over the huge volumes of private data that taxpayers surrender to the government. Using that data in TV ads showing the Revenue Department acting like a military spy organization helps creates this mistrust. We expect this from law enforcement, but not government agencies. If the Revenue Department knows where a delinquent taxpayer lives, then try knocking on their door as opposed to creating intimidation advertisements.