"Don't pay your taxes; lose your driver's license"

Posted at: 03/21/2014 6:20 PM
Updated at: 03/21/2014 6:24 PM
By: Rachel Spotts

If you don't pay your taxes, you might not be able to drive. News10NBC is hearing from viewers about a state program to suspend the driver's licenses of people who owe more than $10,000 in taxes.

News10NBC went around the city Friday asking people what they thought and surprisingly most people liked the idea.

“Don't pay your taxes; lose your driver's license”. It's part of a statewide initiative that went into effect last year targeting residents who owe more than $10,000 in back taxes, to repay their debt. State Senator Ted O’Brien supports it.

O'Brien said, “Some people I think need to have a special inducement to live up to their obligations to pay their taxes and any sticks we can use to encourage people.”

Nearly 9,000 New Yorkers have had their driver's licenses suspended for failing to pay their taxes. 

In Monroe County, licenses have been taken away from 157 drivers, 20 in Ontario County and 13 in Wayne County. 

Is suspending someone's driver's license a good or bad idea? News10NBC spoke with a few people in downtown Rochester.

Pat Curry said, “I think it needs to be looked at, maybe taken on a case by case basis. If the people are doing this all the time, then take the license, you might as well.”

Desirae Phelps said, “I feel like if you can afford to buy a car, pay your car insurance, then why can't you pay your taxes? It all goes back into the city, somehow someway and we're closing down schools, why not.”

Some residents think it is a catch twenty-two and say if a person's driver's license is suspended, then how do they get to work to pay back their taxes?

O'Brien said, “We don't want to at the same time use this to punish people who want to become productive, want to live up to their responsibilities, and want to continue to work.”

In order to get their license back, people can either pay their taxes in full or work out a payment agreement with the state. Officials say tax collections have increased over $5.6 million dollars as a result 

Drivers who had their licenses suspended were sent a warning letter for them to take action. If they didn’t, they can’t drive right now.