Every year California publishes a list of notable tax delinquents, many of whom are Hollywood big names. This year is no exception, though some say the celebrity names come more from the B list or farther down the alphabet. Two names you might recognize among the top 500 tax delinquents are singer Dionne Warwick and actor Steven Seagal.
Warwick is now a resident of New Jersey, yet she owes the state of California $2.6 million, going back to 2003. According to publicist Kevin Sasaki, Warwick has worked with the state to come up with a repayment plan and is working on paring down her debt.
Steven Seagal is a relative newcomer to the list, having been added last April. He owes the state about $350,000. No comment was available from Seagal or his company Steamroller Productions.
Compared to some, Warwick and Seagal are small potatoes. Who is number one on the list? Owing $10.7 million, that dubious distinction goes to Halsey M. Minor and his wife Shannon of San Rafael. Minor is the cofounder of Cnet and a pioneer of high-tech business of the 1990s. Cnet's fortune was followed by the tech bubble burst in the early 2000s. The Minors were also on last year's delinquent list, at which time their tax burden was $10.5 million.
The List of Shame
Since 2007, California has published this roster annually. But as of January 1, 2012, a new law requires that the tax authorities update and publish the list of the top 500 scofflaws twice a year. To be included, taxpayers must have a tax debt of at least $100,000 and be subject to a recorded notice of state tax lien. The list displays the taxpayer's name, address, the amount of the lien, the earliest date the lien was recorded, the taxpayer's occupation, professional licenses and related details, and if the taxpayer is a corporation or limited liability company, the names and titles of the principal officers of the taxpayer.
Part of the reason for publishing the list is an effort to close the state's tax gap, which this year is estimated to be about $10 billion. From its inception in 2007 to September 24, 2012, this program has recovered more than $175 million in revenue. You can see the top 500 names by going to the State of California Franchise Tax Board website.
The site includes this admonition: "We urge any taxpayer on this list to contact us immediately to arrange to pay their delinquent state income tax."