Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that revenue seized from state tax returns from so-called "deadbeats and cheaters" who owe the city money will pay for summer youth programs and to put more police on the streets.
The city of Chicago has fast tracked collecting its outstanding debts with a city ordinance that greenlit the city's interception of state income tax refund returns from those who owe the city for parking tickets, speeding citations and other city fines. The Chicago Tribune reports that it has collected $5.2 million in three weeks and expects to rake in an estimated $3.3 million more this year.
Announcing the plan at the Harris Park Fieldhouse, Emanuel said, according to the Tribune, that the city's Summer Youth Employment Program and After School Matters summer programs will each be given $2 million of the money generated from the seized tax returns, while another $2.5 million will go to the city Park District's summer programs. $2 million will go to add 50 cadets to the city's police academy June class.
The mayor said that the majority of money owed to the city is from individuals who are not Chicago residents -- 52 percent to be exact, ABC Chicago reports.
The Expired Meter reported last month that Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office began alerting affected taxpayers that their returns would be garnished as early as Feb. 21, just short of a week after Chicago's City Council approved the plan.
Some have complained that the city has wrongly accused them of owing them money on tickets dating back several years in some cases. James Rojas told CBS Chicago he has received notices pertaining to a car he sold in 1999 to an individual who never changed the vehicle's license plates. In 2001, Rojas claims, a judge cleared him of any responsibility related to any citations of the vehicle's new owner.
Linda Jackson, a city library custodian, told the Chicago Sun-Times that her $296 tax refund has been held up because of unpaid parking tickets her son racked up. Jackson does not own the car in question.
Others have criticized the income tax grab as a policy that will "disproportionately affect the working poor," as Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely's office noted in a letter last month, Crain's Chicago Business reported. City Comptroller Amer Ahmad maintained, in response, that those impacted have "repeatedly ignored multiple collection efforts that include several notices from the city, a final determination letter and multiple correspondence from a collection agency."
Should there be a discrepancy, impacted taxpayers are permitted to protest the garnishing of their refund, The Expired Meter reported.