When Governor Paterson included a tax amnesty program in his proposal to cut the state’s $3-billion-plus budget deficit, claiming it would bring in $350 million, we thought it was rather wishful thinking. But the Albany Times-Union finds some big numbers among the top 200 state tax scofflaws it uncovered via Freedom of Information requests. The highest roller is one Gui Hong Chen, who despite the lack of a publicly listed phone number has amassed $19,049,250 in unpaid cigarette taxes — through sales, we imagine, not personal consumption. Craig L. Schrutt, dba Carp’s Auto Sales, owes nearly five million.
Al Sharpton owes about $784,000. Former City Council President Andrew Stein owes $340,000 over three years of warrants. A total is not revealed, but it appears $350 million is out there to be had.
The trick is to get at it. To make the amnesty more appealing, state senator Jeff Klein of The Bronx wants to pass a law that would allow state agencies the right to refuse renewal of state licensing to tax scofflaws.