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Inaccuracies in The Indianapolis Star Sunday Article
The Indianapolis Star story that ran on Sunday, Nov. 21 reflected a number of inaccuracies. We believe it is in the public’s best interest to correct significant inaccuracies whenever possible. We hope that many of these inaccuracies were printed out of misunderstanding. Here are comments made in the story, and the facts to clarify or correct them:
Error: "The list is the latest tactic by the Department of Revenue to attack the rising amount of delinquent business taxes."
Fact: The state legislature mandated a list be developed and posted beginning Jan. 1, 2010. It is not a tactic of the Department of Revenue. In addition, our agency indicated to The Indianapolis Star that data on hand does not support that delinquencies are on the rise. However, collections of existing delinquencies are on the rise (from $90 million in FY 2005 to more than $188 million in FY 2009).
Error: "The list was seriously outdated . . . "
Fact: The list is not outdated. In fact, The Indianapolis Star was told the list is updated monthly with new information obtained from taxpayers. In addition, businesses that have gone out of business may still be legitimately on the list if they have not paid the taxes that were due when they were in business.
Error: "Berkshire was allowed to keep its retail certificate, she [Stephanie McFarland] said, because of Behning’s willingness to work out a repayment plan."
Fact: This is incorrect on all accounts. Stephanie McFarland spoke with The Indianapolis Star and sent an email dated Nov. 17, 2010, in which she responded to the question as such:
--4. Why didn't IDOR pull Berkshire Florist's retail certificate? As stated above, Indiana law does not allow me to share information with you regarding a specific taxpayer account that is not already a public record (tax warrant or court documents). However, I can speak to our general process. The Department of Revenue seeks to make reasonable payment arrangements with any business or individual regarding delinquent taxes. When reasonable payment arrangements are made and kept consistently, the RRMC is reinstated to allow the business to continue operating. But this is the case only as long as the payment arrangements on the past-due amount are kept, and the current tax payments are made as well.
Error: "Those inaccuracies, in fact, have left the state either to write off or to declare nondelinquent $35 million in debt . . . "
Fact: We told The Indianapolis Star’s editor on Friday that we did not provide a number of $35 million and are unsure from where the Star got that number.