Linking driver's license to tax payment is counter-productive

February 03, 2011

The article, "Driver's licenses, registrations may be denied over owed taxes" (Feb. 2), says that "the O'Malley administration is seeking to add new weaponry to the state's tax-collecting arsenal" by denying driver licenses, renewals or registrations to those who owe back taxes.

While it may considered a fitting punishment by the state, it is of the type that will not be productive for the state's collections. Punishment enough are those mounting penalties and fees that continue to accrue until the back taxes are paid.

People can fall off the tax mountain for all sorts of reasons, in many cases nothing more complicated than a divorce, and then be forced to scramble to catch up in a bad economy. On top of that, you take the persons driver's license away and their ability to drive. In my case, while I have a driver's license, I don't own a car. In others, it would affect their ability to get to their job that still contributes money into the state's budget. Maybe they say the heck with it and decide it is better to live on a subsistence income or move out of state to start over. Not only can't the back taxes be repaid, but now current ones aren't coming in.

There is only so much money, and while the state would have the ability to levy punishments, it wouldn't gain in a bad economy on the collection of revenues. Patience is best, as is budgetary prudence. The O'Malley administration proposed a dumb idea.

Michael W. Kohlman, Baltimore

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