We don’t follow Sam Abraham’s reasoning when the Leflore County supervisor argues it’s not right to seize a person’s income tax refund to pay a seriously delinquent garbage bill.
Abraham cast the lone dissenting vote this week when the county board opted to participate in a program, authorized earlier this year by the Mississippi Legislature, that allows local governments to intercept state income tax refunds to pay against past-due debts, such as garbage fees and court fines.
Abraham said that seizing a state refund would put a big hurt on a lot of these debtors. That’s probably an exaggeration, since it’s not state tax refunds on which the working poor count heavily. It’s the federal tax refunds, which include welfare in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit, that are so eagerly anticipated. The county can’t touch these.
Besides, either Leflore County is serious about getting the money it is owed or it’s not. The lax collections in the past — and the lack of muscle to apply against deadbeats — is the reason some two-thirds of county residents haven’t been paying for garbage collection, some of them for 20 years.
If the only way to get people to pay their past-due garbage bills is to attach their state refund check, then by all means, do so.