Delinquent taxpayers will have wages garnished

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

COURTLAND—In its continuing effort to collect back taxes, the Southampton County Treasurer’s Office will garnish wages from the holders of 343 delinquent real estate and personal property tax accounts.

Treasurer David Britt on Monday reported to county supervisors, who in April asked Britt to go after $1.7 million in back taxes, that liens were placed on account holders who owed their taxes from 2008 through 2010.

“We put liens against people’s wages,” he said. “It works like a garnishment. We can take 100 percent of your pay. It’s something we’ve done for the last 20 years.”

Britt also reported that since beginning to seize vehicles in late May for which personal property taxes were owed, the county has taken in $199,479; $42,835 came from people whose vehicles were booted. The rest is believed to have been collected from others who heard about the effort.

The county is working with Virginia Auction and Collections, which over the last month has booted 181 vehicles for non-payment of personal property taxes in the county. The boot prevents the owner of the vehicle from driving it. If tax debts are not settled by the end of the business day, the vehicle is towed.

It costs $200 for the towing and $30 daily for having the boot on the vehicle.

Virginia Auction agents scan license plates of vehicles in parking lots and driveways to find delinquent taxpayers.

Jerry Tucker with Virginia Auction and Collections told supervisors the scanner can read 1,800 plates per minute. Agents work in several Hampton Roads municipalities.

“If you’re at the Chesapeake Mall, and you live in Southampton County, we can seize your car,” Tucker said.

The goal is not to auction off cars.

“Over the past three months in Portsmouth, we seized over 700 cars,” he said. “Less than 2 percent got to auction.”

“Our goal is to change the culture in people not paying taxes,” Tucker added.

According to Virginia Auction and Collections’ website, an auction on June 17 listed 24 vehicles for sale that were seized in Isle of Wight County and the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth.