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Keep off Internet’s ‘wall of tax shame’

by on
in Small Business Tax

In colonial times, governments posted debtors' names in the town square to embarrass them into paying up. More states are doing the same thing, with a 21st century twist: They're launching Web sites that list companies and individuals who owe big back-tax bills.

So far, according to The Associated Press, 13 states use the tactic: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington. States aren't playing coy about the purpose. Example: Louisiana dubs its site "CyberShame," www.rev.state.la.us/sections/cybershame.

In addition to the obvious embarrassment factor, businesses should avoid landing on such lists because creditors, suppliers and clients may be reading, too.

Expect more states to use online shaming. Reason: Georgia, the latest state to employ this tactic, collected $1.2 million in its site's first two months.

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