State workers listed, too

Staff WriterOctober 22, 2002 

There may be a downside, publicity-wise, to the Department of Revenue's posted list of delinquent taxpayers: It includes state workers, too.

One, Bobby D. Worthington of Kinston, owes $13,954.86 in back income taxes, according to the list.

Worthington is a staff attorney with the Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities.

He began work Sept.1 as a temporary employee but signed on full time Oct. 15, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Administration.

The Advocacy Council, which protects the disabled from civil rights violations and other discrimination, scrutinizes prospective attorneys' professional credentials but not their tax status, according to interim Director Allison Bowen.

Nor do most other agencies, according to the Office of State Personnel.

Understandably, the Department of Revenue does screen applicants' tax status, according to Alan Felton, assistant secretary for examination and collection.

But the department has never formally recommended that other agencies do the same, he said.

"We do a full criminal background check as well, and if anyone during their employment falls out of compliance, then they are terminated," Felton said.

Citing personnel concerns, Bowen would not comment on Worthington's hiring or future. She did say that a new tax screening policy might be in order.

"You know, we are public servants, and there are certain expectations that we have," Bowen said.

Cari Boyce, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Easley, and a spokeswoman for the Office of State Personnel, said much the same.

"We are looking into this particular situation," Boyce said, "to determine what steps need to be taken to prevent this in the future."

Worthington, reached at his office in Cameron Village, stressed that he is not a political appointee and speculated that other state employees are probably on the list.

He also noted that he is paying the Department of Revenue $300 per month toward his debt.

"I didn't know my name was up there," he said.

More names coming

The Department of Revenue, meanwhile, is continuing to promote Project Collect Tax, its program to recoup back taxes from individuals and businesses.

Last week, the department added the names of 59 delinquent taxpayers to its N.C. Tax Debtors list. The list, available on the Internet at www.dor.state.nc.us/collect/delinquent.html, includes businesses and individual taxpayers owing roughly $1 million total in back taxes.

In each case, the Department of Revenue has tried to collect the taxes through "all lawful means available," including the recording of a lien, according to the agency's Web site.

Project Collect Tax was launched in August 2001 with the goal of collecting $150 million in overdue taxes in two years.

In November, the department sent roughly 8,600 warning notices to individual and corporate taxpayers owing more than $5,000 each in back taxes.

The notices told recipients that names and amount of back taxes would be published if they failed to pay or make arrangements.

The department has collected roughly $93 million, Felton said.

By staff writer Amy Gardner, who can be reached at 829-8902 or agardner@newsobserver.com.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service