County hopes to collect $4 million in unpaid debt during 2013

2012-09-26T20:15:00Z 2012-09-26T22:20:12Z County hopes to collect $4 million in unpaid debt during 2013Gregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 26, 2012 8:15 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Cook County government is planning to purchase computer software that officials say will help identify businesses and residents who are not paying the full amount of taxes they owe to the county.

County officials also say they’re hoping to create a program that ties into a state government “Local Debt Recovery” program that seeks to collect unpaid debts.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said that she hopes the two efforts can help county government collect about $4 million it is owed, but is not being paid because people are either evading payment or underpaying the taxes they owe.

The initiatives are to be implemented by the time of the 2013 fiscal year, which begins in December.

“As we continue to craft a responsible budget, we have to do more to protect taxpayers who comply with the law on a daily basis while ensuring the county is collecting all the revenue it is owed,” Preckwinkle said, in a prepared statement.

“These proposals will bring in needed revenue to the county while ensuring that everyone is operating on a level playing field,” Preckwinkle said. “This is a win-win for county residents.”

Officials say the computer software that will find unregistered businesses is expected to produce about $2 million more in revenue for the county. Such businesses could include gas stations, stores that sell alcohol and tobacco products and car dealers, parking garages and amusement parks.

Another $2 million is expected to be raised through the county Bureau of Finance’s cooperation with the Illinois comptroller’s program that seeks to find debt such as unpaid traffic violations, civil court penalties and other ordinance violations going back seven years.

Preckwinkle said she sees this latest effort as a continuation of an act she sought last year, when the county created a voluntary disclosure program that encouraged businesses to self-register with the county and pay any taxes owed. Officials say that program generated about $1 million for Cook County.

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