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COLLECTION CRACKDOWN DELINQUENT FIRMS TARGETED IN TAX CAMPAIGN.

Byline: Chris Sieroty Staff Writer

The California Franchise Tax Board has targeted more than 3,100 Los Angeles and Ventura County corporations which failed to file about $66.7 million in tax returns.

The state tax agency said it has demanded payment from the companies as part of a statewide collection campaign against deadbeat corporations who neglected to file a 1998 tax return.

``FTB's ongoing enforcement program strives to ensure that all corporations in California file and pay their fair share of state taxes; thereby creating a level playing field for business, including those in compliance,'' said State Controller Kathleen Connell, who is also chair of the FTB, in a statement.

Denise Azimi, a spokeswoman with the FTB in Sacramento, said the 12,476 corporations in California that did not file tax returns after being notified are in the process of receiving tax assessments totaling $238 million.

According to figures released by the agency, 2,995 corporations in Los Angeles County owe $65 million, while 179 businesses in Ventura County owe approximately $1.7 million.

In 1997, 2,656 corporations in Los Angeles County failed to file about $62 million in state taxes. Ventura County had 153 companies which failed to pay $13.3 million in taxes.

``The discrepancy in figures for Ventura County from 1997 to 1998 is probably due to a few large multimillion-dollar business who owed back taxes,'' said Azimi.

Most California companies pay their taxes, she said. In 1998, 450,000 corporations contributed $5.2 billion to the state treasury.

Those companies that haven't paid taxes were notified of their filing requirements in July and have failed to respond, Azimi said.

State law requires corporations doing business or deriving income from California to file a state tax return and pay their fair share of taxes.

Although the tax rates vary depending on the type of corporate entity, corporations are generally subject to an 8.84 percent tax on net income or a minimum tax of $800, whichever is greater.

Azimi said corporations which fail to pay will be pursued by the Franchise Tax Board's collection arm for the unpaid debts plus an additional penalty of 50 percent. They also may face criminal prosecution and tax liens, she said.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, said he had no qualms about the state collecting back taxes.

``It seems to me that corporations who appear to be making money and are not filing their tax returns there has to be some way of collecting the taxes that are owed,'' Coupal said. ``I think the California tax burden is incredibly onerous, but the law is the law.''
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 6, 2000
Words:441
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