Using cell phone bills to track delinquent taxpayers
June 13th, 2012 by Ric Hanson
State officials have a new way to track down delinquent taxpayers. A state law passed two years ago let the Iowa Department of Revenue access to cell phone customer lists, but the agency has only recently had the staff to analyze that information. Victoria Daniels of the Department of Revenue says the agency can subpoena other utility records, but cellphone accounts are especially helpful. “If you have DirectTV, you probably have an address and we could probably find you that way,” Daniels says. “The cellphone is really something that you can kind of have and remain anonymous, for the most part.” Officials estimate up to 20 percent of cell phone customers in Iowa owe back taxes to the state, but haven’t been traced because their name doesn’t appear on any other bills.
“There are just a lot of ways to hide if you really don’t want to be found,” Daniels says. According to the Legislative Services Agency, as much as one-point-seven million dollars ($1.7 million) in back-taxes may be owed by people who’ve been hard to locate, but now can be tracked down via cell phone records. The program is modeled on a Department of Human Services initiative to track down parents who owe child support.