Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Delinquent taxes won’t hunt

Louisiana is a sportsman's paradise, it says so on the license plates. Hunting and fishing are an integral part of that paradise. However, Louisiana taxpayers who don't want to pay their taxes may not get to do either. Ignoring delinquent state income tax bills can result in suspension or denial of hunting, fishing or driver's licenses.

According to state law, taxpayers who owe more than $500 in delinquent individual state income tax may have their hunting or fishing licenses suspended or denied. Those who owe more $1000 may have their driver's license suspended or denied.

The laws came into effect on Jan. 1, 2004.

According to Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) Press Secretary Byron Henderson, the driver's license suspension program was implemented in March of 2008, with the hunting and fishing license suspension program following in May of 2010.

Prior to license suspension, the LDR sends delinquent bills and finally a certified letter.

"Taxpayers are notified of these possible actions in a document called a Letter of Intent," Henderson said. "This letter is sent certified to the taxpayer's billing address. I do want to make it clear that this is not our first course of action, in fact it's our last."

The state offers payment programs and Henderson said as soon as the taxpayer makes arrangements the suspension will be lifted.

To avoid the penalty Henderson said, "Do not ignore our billing notices. If you cannot pay in full, please make a payment arrangement with the (LDR). If you think you have received a notice in error, please contact the (LDR)."

Henderson said when the criteria for driver's license suspension is met, he sends the information to Department of Public Safety for the license suspension notice to be issued by them.

"The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sends us their license information, and we notify both the taxpayer and Wildlife and Fisheries of the suspension of hunting and fishing licenses," Henderson said.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Press Secretary Bo Boehringer said the offending taxpayer's record is flagged, and they will be unable to purchase a hunting or fishing license until their name is released by the LDR.

When a license is sold before the record is flagged as delinquent, Boehringer said, "If the license holder is issued a citation in the field, the enforcement agent can seize the license at that time."

According to Boehringer, hunting without a license can result in $250 to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail. The charges could then be compounded with additional fines and jail time if the person cited was also in possession of illegally taken fish or game.

Henderson said since Jan. 1, 2011, there have been 1,009 driver's suspensions and 12,601 hunting/fishing suspensions across the state. Since enforcement began in March 2008, there have been 7,144 driver's license suspensions. Since enforcement began in May 2010, there have been 30,074 hunting and fishing license suspensions.

Local hunter, taxpayer and Webster Parish Sheriff's Deputy Bobby Igo said he gladly pays his taxes, as he believes other hunters should also.

"The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and all those entities are funded by our tax dollars," Igo said. "We need those people out there making sure we are safe and our animals are abundant. We are a sportsman's paradise here and we do that through taxes."

Editor's note: The Louisiana Department of Public Safety - Office of Motor Vehicles did not respond to a request for information as of press time.

 

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