As New York State Child Support Enforcement Month draws to an end, Acting New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Barbara G. Billet today announced record levels of child support enforcement activity by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Since 1997, the Department of Taxation and Finance has worked with the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to enforce child support orders in the State. This relationship had been temporary, but this year the Governor and the Legislature made the partnership permanent, ensuring that deadbeat parents will continue to face the combined resources of multiple agencies dedicated to securing compliance with court mandated orders of support.
While OTDA handles the majority of collections in support of court mandated support, the Department of Taxation and Finance is tasked with enforcement of the most difficult collections cases, those requiring the seizing of bank assets as well as physical property. Failure to pay child support may also result in negative credit report activity, the revocation of one's driver's license and professional licenses as well as the inability to renew a passport and travel outside the United States.
In calendar year 1997, Tax Department child support enforcement resulted in approximately $12.4 million in collections. Last year, a record $57.2 million was collected. In the first seven months of this year, the Department has collected $29.5. In total, more than $480 million has been collected by the Tax Department from deadbeat parents on behalf of their children to date.
The Department collects some of this money by seizing property from the taxpayer. The property is then either auctioned by the state or returned to the owner upon payment of the owed child support. Since it began seizing property to satisfy child support obligations the Department of Taxation and Finance has completed more than 1,300 property seizures. More than 65% of these seizures have been completed over the past three years. In the first eight months of 2007, the Department conducted 334 property seizures and has collected more than $989,000.
Some parents have been more interested in buying expensive luxury items for themselves rather than supporting their children. In 2007 alone, the Department has seized, among other items, a classic 1969 Pontiac GTO, a 1971 Ford Torino GT, a 1975 Harley Davidson XLCH Sportster, a 1977 MGB Roadster, several speedboats, two Mercedes ML320s, a 2004 Hummer H2, a 2003 Arctic Cat snowmobile, a 2007 Coachman Concorde motor home and a vintage 1974 Porsche 914. The most valuable seizure to date was a rare Jules Pascin painting (Seated Woman) that brought in $132,000 at auction this past March.
Acting Commissioner Billet said, "One of the most rewarding aspects of our work at the Department of Taxation and Finance is partnering with the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to guarantee that children receive the financial support from parents that they deserve and need. We will continue to work aggressively with OTDA to ensure that the support which has been ordered is in fact received. The children of New York State can draw strength from the assurance that we will not rest until all parents live up to their responsibilities."
OTDA Commissioner David A. Hansell noted the two agencies have also worked jointly on other ways to ensure non-custodial parents live up to their responsibilities. In 2006, OTDA and the Department of Taxation and Finance implemented the enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income, non-custodial parents who paid the full amount of their child support for the tax year. This resulted in more than $1.7 million in refunds being distributed to over 4,200 low-income, non-custodial parents.
Statewide, a record $1.558 billion in child support was collected in 2006 through OTDA. Commissioner Hansell said he expects continued improvement in 2007.
"Child support remains a crucial source of income for thousands of children and families in New York and is often the difference between poverty and self-sufficiency," Commissioner Hansell said. "Because of these combined efforts, more parents are accepting responsibility for the financial well being of their children, giving them a brighter future."