County residents to get 2009 tax reminders

Pen and paper

Nearly 400 San Benito County residents will soon receive notices
from the state reminding them that they still need to file their
income tax returns from 2009.
Nearly 400 San Benito County residents will soon receive notices from the state reminding them that they still need to file their income tax returns from 2009.

Approximately $11.2 million is owed by 388 locals for the 2009 tax year, according to John Barrett of the California Franchise Tax Board. Last year, 407 county residents owing a total of $11.8 million received the late-filing letters.

In a tradition started in 1975, officials with the California Franchise Tax Board sent out about 900,000 letters to residents around the state reminding them they still need to file their income-tax returns from the previous year.

Of those, 4,934 are destined for Santa Cruz County, and 8,000 are bound for Monterey County. The county with the highest number of letters is Los Angeles County, with almost 193,000, according to tax board spokesman Daniel Tahara.

In Hollister, 341 residents owing $9.5 million will receive the tax notices. Thirty-one San Juan Bautista residents owing more than $816,000 are also on the list.

Residents who haven’t already received the letters should expect them early next week.

“If they ignore the initial letter, we’ll send a bill,” he explained. “If they ignore the bill, the account will be put in the hands of collectors who will get in touch with the residents.”

In the worst case scenario, a lien will be placed on the residents’ properties “and they may not even know it until years later when they try to sell their homes,” he said, but added that the board does try to work out payment arrangements.

For example, those who owe $25,000 or less can enroll in an installment plan, assuming they can pay off the debt in five years or less.

Residents will not be notified electronically, Tahara said, so anyone who receives an e-mail purportedly sent by the IRS or Franchise Tax Board should delete it.

A letter is triggered when tax officials receive information from the IRS, financial institutions, employers or other sources about an individual’s income or revenue, but there’s no corresponding tax return.

About 40 percent of those who received letters last year filed their overdue returns.

In recent years, Tahara said, the state has collected between $550 million and $600 million as a result of the reminder letters.

Wire services contributed to this report.

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