Wilton residents among 'top-100' delinquent taxpayers in state

Four Wilton residents, Phillip Miller and Lee B. Miller of 105 Drum Hill Road, and Daniel Raposo and Doris Raposo of 20 Cherry Lane, have been identified by the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services as two of the top 100 delinquent personal income taxpayers in the state.

Phillip Miller, a Wilton resident and insurance agent who was arrested on July 12 after allegedly stealing $12,000 from a client, and Lee B. Miller owe $69,328.48 in back income taxes, penalties, and interest to the state of Connecticut as of July 1. Neither Mr. Miller, nor his attorney, could be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Daniel Raposo and Doris Raposo owe $225,177.04. Mr. Raposo is the owner of Daniel O. Raposo Construction. Family members told The Bulletin that Mr. Raposo was out of the country, and could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Raposo’s attorney, Anthony Parent, asked residents to consider the lack of legal proceedings that have occured in relation to his client’s case.

“With issues like this, there hasn’t been any court order, or judgment, yet. The DRS and the IRS are allowed to file liens without any judgment. Eventually in these cases, we are able to lower these liens to appropriate levels.”

Just because you see someone who owes a large amount, he said, doesn’t mean that is what they are legally obligated to pay, he said.

“We intend to comply with the law, and make it clear that this is nothing at all he is running away from. We want to make sure that if he owes any amount, we make sure it is the appropriate amount.”

Sarah Kaufman, of the Department of Revenue Services, says the list is published in the hope that citizens will contact the department with updated information on delinquent taxpayers.

“The idea began as public shaming, really,” she said. “That’s what it boils down to. The vast majority of people are honest and follow the rules. Finding out that you are following the rules — and that your nieghbor isn’t — tends to make people angry.”

Because of this injustice, the department is able to garner information from neighbors on how the state may be able to recoup unpaid income tax, Ms. Kaufman said.

“Another part is that people will give us information based on what they see on the website,” she said. “They’ll call to tell us that a person no longer lives at an address, or that they know where that person is living.”

The top-100 list has been published online since 1997, she said, and is an effective tool for the DRS, says Ms. Kaufman.

“We really make every effort to get every taxpayer on a plan to pay off the debt. When they are non-responsive, this is what we resort to. The only thing the agency wants is to make sure we follow through and uphold the law. We want to make sure the money owed to the state is paid to the state.”

Local tax attorney Fred L. Baker, of the Baker law firm, said in a phone interview that he wonders whether this list is doing the job the DRS intends.

“In my experience it’s not the most effective tool,” he said. “Most of my clients are a bit emabrassed that there will be communication about the fact that they are high up on the list. But, it hasn’t caused any of my clients to rush in and pay their tax liability.”

Many times, he said, his clients simply do not have the capital to pay their taxes and remove themselves from the list.

“Sometimes I get questions from clients when this is about to happen,” he said. “Many times, they have little or nothing in the way of paying their tax liability, which would stop that from happening.”

The department’s intent, Ms. Kaufman said, is not to bankrupt people who have fallen on hard times, but to follow through on tax laws that most people are honest about.

“I pay my taxes, you pay your taxes,” Ms. Kaufman said. “Why shouldn’t they pay their taxes? We encourage people to make an agreement with us. We will sit down with people, we will look through things, and really figure out what can be paid. The only thing the agency wants is to make sure we follow through and uphold the law. We want to make sure the money owed to the state is paid to the state.”

Though he feels the list itself is of questionable effectiveness, Mr. Baker says the threat of being on the list may be a good tool for the state.

“It’s usually the threat of being on the list that gets their attention,” he said.

The top 100 delinquent taxpayer list is availbible online at http://www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1453&q=296114.

Those with information on delinquent taxpayers may call the Department of Revenue Services at 860-297-5962.