Perea targets tax cheats' licenses to drive, do business


During the state's budget crisis, one state lawmaker says it's time to make tax cheats pay up. Because some of the biggest offenders are realtors, contractors and doctors, he wants to go after their licenses to practice and/or their licenses to drive.

While millions of Californians every year send the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) the taxes they owe, some do not.

The top 250 scofflaws are already outed on a state website.

Technology millionaire Halsey Minor topping the list, owing more than $14 million. Actress Pamela Anderson is on the hook for $600,000.

State Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) says that's not fair in these tight budget times and wants to take away the tax delinquents' professional licenses and/or driver's licenses until they can set up payment plans with FTB.

"While they are the wealthy among us, they continue to buy their vacation homes, their Mercedes-Benzes and their Bentleys," said Perea.

Perea says if all 250 people on the list paid their taxes, the state would have another $180 million, enough to save adult health daycare from elimination, and other social programs from further budget cuts.

Alfonso Nguyen has seen his in-home care diminish year-after-year.

"If they pay their fair share, then we wouldn't have these budget problems," said Nguyen.

But some on the list claim they've been disputing their tax bill and the Franchise Tax Board is not helpful in resolving cases.

Los Angeles attorney Anthony Brooklier, who is representing the suspect in the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow, owes $760,000. He said in a statement he's been contacting them for years trying to work this out.

Workers at Paul Del Grande Auto Parts in Silicon Valley say it's not fair to go after the owner's license when they don't believe he owes $360,000.

"I think that's ridiculous. First off, how can a person make money if they can't get around?" said Linda Leighton, an employee there.

"If they don't believe there are consequences to their actions, then they will never pay it," said Perea.

The Franchise Tax Board says it makes every attempt to make people pay their tax bills voluntarily. Putting people on the list for the public to see is a last resort.

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