Investigator: Debt deadbeats owe state millions

10:55 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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The state of Ohio has written off tens of millions dollars in debts owed by companies and corporations across Ohio.

The debt includes fines, penalties, fees, workers compensation premiums, unemployment compensation and taxes.

"I think the public should be mad. For someone to get away with not paying taxes or to get away with something else where they owe the state money, it's not right, " said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is charged with the responsiblity of collecting debt owed to the state.

Channel 3 News examined records of debt erased from state treasury accounts from January, 2010 to May, 2013. Records show the state has failed to collect $176,482,117.

"I think that's terrible," said Lynda, a taxpayer the Investigator Tom Meyer interviewed at the West Side Market.

"We're all required to pay our debts for all bills we have. I think it's negligent that companies don't pay their debts."

DeWine said they don't treat companies any differently than individuals. "The state has one interest and that's to recover money," he said.

The state has its own staff assigned to go after debt deadbeats and also pays four collection agencies to recover millions owed to the state. DeWine said it's often a frustrating process, saying that companies have gone out of business or gone bankrupt.

The state was trying to determine if the Kronheim's furniture stores that opened last year have the same executives they had when its doors closed in 2007.

Channel 3 News found the company is under new ownership and, therefore, the $302,892 debt owed to the state is virtually uncollectible.

The same holds true for a company called Tartan Inc. out of Fairport Harbor.

In 2010, a new owner took over the company, which builds luxury sailboats. The company, under prior ownership, owed the state more than $1 million.

"In most cases, if a corporation goes out of business, everybody is stuck," said Dewine.

The state has 40 years to collect a debt before it must be erased from the books. 

DeWine said this is money that belongs to the taxpayers and his office is doing anything it can legally to recover the money.

An unidentified taxpayer said the state needs to try harder.

"Well, I think so. If you're trying to balance the budget, instead of doing it on the backs of local municipalities and local school districts." 



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