NY State Wrongfully Suspends License of Man With Prior Garnishments
WAS YOUR NYS LICENSE SUPSENDED FOR UNPAID TAXES WHEN YOU ARE ALREADY BEING GARNISHED? YOU MAY HAVE A BASIS TO HAVE YOUR LICENSE REINSTATED—BUT YOU NEED TO ACT FAST!
To put it simply, the New York Department of Taxation is limited in its ability to take drastic action, like suspending your driver’s license, to try to motivate you to resolve back tax liabilities.
One of those limitations is that they are not permitted by law to take such actions against someone already overburdened with financial hardship and prior financial commitments to their family. If you are behind on your child support and spousal support, you need to catch up with those commitments before you can address your tax situation.
It is worth noting that the New York Department of Taxation appears to have no procedure to find out if you have a garnishment and to check that before taking your driver’s license. For this reason, you must speak up and challenge the Tax Department’s actions in cases where they take heavy-handed an oppressive action against you, ignorant of the reality that you are already overtaxed with other higher legislatively-prioritized garnishments.
The legislature has recognized this, and ALJ’s hold the New York Department of Taxation, which spends little time investigating your individual circumstances, to abide by their strict statutory limitations. See, e.g., Matter of Chase A. Caro, DTA No. 826305 (N.Y.S. Div. of Tax App., Apr. 2, 2015). ALJ Barbara J. Russo summarized the law as follows:
“Two specifically enumerated grounds for challenging a notice of proposed driver license suspension referral include: (1) the garnishment of the taxpayer’s wages by the department for the payment of the past-due tax liabilities or for past-due child support or combined child and spousal support arrears (Tax Law § 171-v[iii] and (2) the garnishment of a taxpayer’s wages by the department for the payment of the past-due tax liabilities or for past-due child support or combined child and spousal support arrears pursuant to an income execution (Tax Law § 171-v[iv]).”
Matter of Chase A. Caro, DTA No. 826305 (N.Y.S. Div. of Tax App., Apr. 2, 2015, pg. 8).
In Matter of Chase A. Caro, the following facts were presented to the Division of Tax Appeals.
- Mr. Caro received a Notice of Proposed Driver Licenses Suspension Referral from the NY Department of Tax and Finance on August 2, 2013.
- The 60-Day Notice reflected that Mr. Caro had past-due total balances of $81,021.99.
- New York State Department of Taxation, as judgment creditor, also issued an April 29, 2013 tax compliance levy to Mr. Caro’s employer, Professional Examination Services, on the same tax collection modules and enforcement ID numbers that were included in the 60-Day Notice.
- Mr. Caro is subject to prior child support and spousal support garnishments.
- Despite being informed of the existing child support and spousal support garnishments in effect against Mr. Caro’s pay by his employer, Professional Examination Services, NYS Department of Taxation and Finance took the untenable position that “petitioner has not raised any of the grounds listed above (in Tax law § 171-v[iv]) which are the only grounds for challenging the proposed suspension of the petitioner’s driver’s license pursuant to Tax law § 171-v,” despite the fact that petitioner specifically raised the defense that a prior garnishment was in effect.
ALJ Barbara J. Russo justly found that the Department of Taxation’s motion for summary determination under 20 N.Y.C.R.R. 3000.9[b] and CPLR 3212 was premature and that the Tax Department’s failure to respond to petitioner’s defense, as well as the Tax Department’s apparent practice of failing to search for in-place prior legislatively-higher-priority garnishments, generally, or specifically in the case at bar, all required that a full plenary hearing take place, and all pointed to the likelihood that the taxpayer would be relieved from license suspension actions because a valid meritorious defense existed in the case at bar. Matter of Chase A. Caro, DTA No. 826305 (N.Y.S. Div. of Tax App., Apr. 2, 2015, pgs. 9-10).