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Updated 02/15/12 – 5:05 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) –The City of Chicago is targeting state tax returns to recoup some of the millions of dollars in unpaid parking and red-light camera tickets.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the City Council Budget Committee has approved an agreement between the city and the Illinois State Comptroller’s office to help the city collect outstanding debts.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, if the full City Council approves the measure, the city could deplete your tax refund.
Residents who have not paid judgments or parking ticket fines could lose their state income tax refund.
Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th) sought assurances that there would be some sort of warning before the city took the cash.
The state will notify residents that their refund is being held because the city has a debt claim against them.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Craig Dellimore Reports
As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he backs the move because, to date, “those that are being irresponsible and cheating are getting away with it.”
Topping the city’s list of scofflaws is a person who owes more than $90,000 in unpaid fines.
That figure shocked Darryl Smith, who was in line at the city’s Department of Revenue on Tuesday to pay his tickets.
He said everybody should have to pay their tickets and other fines from the city.
But another woman in line worried if the city plans to target those who are on a payment plan for their unpaid fines.
“I hope not. I really do,” she said.
Chicago City Comptroller Amer Ahmed said those on payment plans won’t be affected.
“The people who really will be affected by this are those that have really avoided complying with the law,” Ahmed said.
That means the city who have ignored notice after notice after notice to pay their fines. It’s a last resort to convince scofflaws to pay up; people like Nancy Wardlaw’s daughter, Cybill, who has 177 tickets and owes the city more than $30,000.
She’s a student with a child. She’s expecting an income tax refund this year, so losing it “would affect her in a big way” Wardlaw said.
“Rahm I love you. … but they should find a better way,” she added.
City officials said when scofflaws don’t pay, everyone suffers due to the need to make cuts in city services to make up for the lost revenue.
Intercepting tax refunds could bring in $8 million to $20 million over the next two years.
If your tax refund does not cover the fines you owe, expect to have money taken out of future refunds if this measure is approved.
City officials said Chicago is owed some $400 million in unpaid tickets.