New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new initiative Monday to encourage individuals who owe significant back taxes to the state to pay their bills by suspending their New York State driver licenses when their past-due tax liability exceeds $10,000.

The crackdown is the result of legislation introduced as part of the executive budget and signed into law earlier this year.

“Our message is simple: tax scofflaws who don’t abide by the same rules as everyone else are not entitled to the same privileges as everyone else,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These worst offenders are putting an unfair burden on the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who are hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers. By enacting these additional consequences, we’re providing additional incentives for the state to receive the money it is owed and we’re keeping scofflaws off the very roads they refuse to pay their fair share to maintain.”

The new initiative is estimated to increase collections in the Empire State by $26 million this fiscal year and as much as $6 million annually thereafter.

“It’s in every taxpayer’s best interest to pay all tax bills in full,” said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. ”If you can’t pay in full, our staff is available to help you arrange a payment plan that will satisfy your debt.”

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance will send the first round of 16,000 suspension notices to delinquent taxpayers, who have 60 days from the mailing date to arrange payment with the Department. If the taxpayer fails to do so, the Department of Motor Vehicles will send a second letter providing an additional 15 days to respond. If the taxpayer again fails to arrange payment, their license will be suspended until the debt is paid or a payment plan is established.

A taxpayer who drives while the suspension is in effect is subject to arrest and penalties, Cuomo’s office noted. Those with a suspended license can, however, apply for a restricted license, which allows them to drive to work, and return directly home. 

In New York State, 96 percent of taxes are paid by businesses and individuals who voluntarily meet their tax responsibilities, Cuomo’s office noted. The remaining 4 percent is collected through the tax department's audit, collections and criminal investigations programs.