Tag Archives: loss

Starting July 1, Unpaid Court Costs & Fines Mean Loss of Driver’s License

Thousands of Tennesseans who haven’t paid court costs and fines will start losing their driver’s licenses on July 1 under a law enacted by the General Assembly last year. Bob Fowler reports that county court clerks and judges, who are preparing to begin enforcing the law, have differing opinions about whether it’s a wise thing to do.
The law applies to misdemeanor and felony cases that were resolved after July 1, 2011. Defendants one year from the date of a guilty plea or conviction to pay off their court costs and fines and, if they don’t they are faced with loss of license. The revocations, thus, will begin after July 1, 2012.
“Imagine the court having to have a hearing on every unpaid court cost case,” Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Barry Pelizzari said. “It would be a burden that this system could not handle.”
“It’s going to be a huge mess,” Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge predicted. He said he expects to discuss the issue with fellow jurists during a judicial conference in June.
Roane County Circuit Court Clerk Kim Nelson offers another view. She said she’s “thankful that the Legislature has provided court clerks with another enforcement tool in collecting court costs.”
…State Rep. Jim Gotto, R-Nashville, spearheaded passage of the law. His main reason: “There’s almost $1 billion statewide in unpaid fines and court costs,” he said.
Defendants facing the loss of their driver’s license will now have “an incentive to pay their fines,” he said.
Gotto said he was asked to introduce the legislation by representatives of the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s office. “They see what a huge problem this is.”
Gotto said the law allows defendants unable to pay off their court costs in full within a year to either seek a six-month extension or set up an installment plan for paying.
“There are all kinds of safeguards to keep from disenfranchising any group,” he said, “but it brings some real consequences to folks who just won’t pay.”
Several clerks said they have either already sent out notices to defendants owing court costs in cases resolved last July, alerting them about the new law, or plan to do so soon.

In Job Growth, TN Ranks No. 42

A new analysis of federal data shows not many states lost more jobs in the last five years than Tennessee, reports the Memphis Business Journal.
According to On Numbers, a Memphis Business Journal affiliate, Tennessee has lost 170,600 jobs since 2006, the 42nd worst state performance. Texas was the big winner in On Numbers’ midyear analysis of employment trends, adding 537,500 non-farm jobs between June 2006 and June 2011, based on the latest seasonally adjusted figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Louisiana saw the second-biggest increase by any state during the five years, gaining 55,900 non-farm jobs. North Dakota was third with a raw increase of 41,700. On Numbers used BLS data to calculate raw and percentage changes in employment between the midpoints of 2006 and 2011.

Amazon and Sales Tax Collections a Hot Topic at SLC

In a couple ofTNReport articles from the Southern Legislative Conference, Mike Morrow reports on the controversy over Amazon.com collecting state sales taxes, which is a big issue for legislators in many states.
One article is on an SLC meeting that featured reports on the impact of e-commerce. An excerpt:
Dr. William F. Fox, director of economics at the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research, joined North Carolina’s secretary of Revenue, David W. Hoyle, in a presentation, and the message they brought was that Amazon has managed to create an uneven playing field and that Internet sales in general are having a huge impact on state revenues.
…”The Amazon part is only about 5 percent of e-commerce,” (Fox) said.
But Fox said his center’s research estimates the total of e-commerce is about $4 trillion, with about $46 billion in taxes due across the nation. He said most states surveyed are going to lose about $200 million or more this year due to uncollected taxes on e-commerce.
But the issue goes far beyond uncollected sales taxes, according to Fox. There was consistent growth in retail employment until about 2000, a rate of about 2 percent per year.
“Since 2002, retail employment in the U.S. has absolutely flattened out,” Fox said.
To put a sharper focus on it, Fox told lawmakers Walmart hires five workers for every million dollars in sales. Amazon hires one.
“As we move from people who buy on Main Street, and they move to buy from Amazon because of the tax subsidy that is implicit in the way we pay, we cost the economy four jobs,” he said.

The other article is devoted mostly to commentary from House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, sponsor of legislation that would mandate Amazon collect sales taxes once it opens distribution facilities in Tennessee…. Even if Gov. Bill Haslam negotiates a deal to exempt Amazon.
Sargent’, the article says, has “used some of the strongest language of any legislator to express his opinion on Amazon.” For example:
“We can find no legal basis for this alleged agreement. None,” Sargent said in a subcommittee meeting in May. “Nobody is above the law, and nobody can cut deals to circumvent the law.”
But his current rhetoric sounds considerably more ambivalent. For example:
“I am definitely looking at proceeding on it,”
http://www.tnreport.com/2011/07/many-states-grappling-with-amazon-tax-issue/
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