2016 Tax Refund Intercept Pilot Project Concludes

By Mike Cuccaro

What a season!  The Tax Refund Intercept Program piloted by the AOC and eleven courts just wrapped up its 2016 collection efforts with the Department of Revenue.   “Thanks to lots of hard work by our Georgia Courts and the AOC, we have created a sound system to request and process tax intercepts.Our state court system is stronger as a result of this cooperative effort,” says Randy Dennis, head of Financial Administration at the JC/AOC.
Courts sent out required notices to debtors and managed thousands of requests to intercept unpaid court fines and fees, which were processed by the Department of Revenue on a nightly basis.  Intercepted money from tax returns was then sent through the Office of the Treasury and Financial Services and held by the AOC to ensure that taxpayers had the opportunity to appeal.

The results by the numbers:
Participating courts:  11
Courts successfully submitting intercepts: 9
Total number of intercept requests over the tax season: 4388
Total number of intercepts:  206
Total amount intercepted:  $39,580.41
Number of hearings statewide:  3 (1 resulted in a default judgment when taxpayer failed to show)
The peak period for intercept requests is mid-February to mid-March.  Since many requests were not in the system by this peak period, the number of intercepts could have been substantially higher.  In addition tens of thousands more dollars were collected by courts directly, as a result of warning notices that the courts send to the debtors.  Many Georgia courts have had difficulty over the years enforcing monetary judgments.  Whether the fine is for a traffic offense or something more serious, certain offenders have been able to avoid paying their fines and/or court fees.  The pilot testing has given Georgia courts a proven new method to enforce judgments.
Several steps of the program were put in place to ensure that debtors and courts can resolve these debts amicably, and indeed, customer service to the pilot courts and to taxpayers was a hallmark of the pilot program.  The AOC provided a customer service line and email address for questions.  The AOC also set up its first operational intranet online information forum for pilot courts to provide “how to” documents, suggested forms, and other guidance.  Courts and staff were encouraged throughout the pilot to work with taxpayers politely and to do everything possible to arrive at the right result.
Planning is underway to turn the pilot program into a permanent service to Georgia’s courts.  Judges and clerks interested in learning more about the program should check trip.georgiacourts.gov for updates and information.

Contact AOC

Administrative Office of the Courts 244 Washington Street, SW Suite 300 Atlanta, GA  30334

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