Atlanta, GA — Many Georgia courts have had difficulty over the years enforcing monetary judgments. Whether the fine is for a traffic offense or something more serious, certain offenders have been able to avoid paying their fines and/or court fees. To help combat this issue, Georgia has initiated a Tax Refund Intercept Program (“TRIP”) pilot project for collecting unpaid debts owed to courts during the 2016 tax season.
TRIP will provide Georgia’s courts with a new means of enforcing orders for monies due the court and protecting the integrity of their decisions. The Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts (JC/AOC) and the Georgia Department of Revenue (Department) began development of TRIP following the 2014 passage of House Bill 1000 by the General Assembly authorizing the program. This legislation allows the JC/AOC to submit debts on behalf of Georgia’s courts to the Department for collection from state income tax refunds. A number of pilot courts across the State are participating in the first year of the program. Funds collected through the program will be distributed as if the judgment were satisfied through normal court procedures.
Several steps have been put in place to ensure that debtors and courts can resolve these debts amicably. Every debtor will be mailed a notice by the court in advance of an intercept request. Debtors will have thirty days to resolve their debt before the Department is asked to intercept a state tax refund. If the debt remains and the tax refund is intercepted, the taxpayer will receive a notice from the Department and then will have another thirty days to register a dispute through the JC/AOC. The JC/AOC will notify the requesting court of the dispute, and the court will work with the concerned taxpayer to resolve the debt. Intercepted funds may be returned to the taxpayer if it is determined that the taxpayer is not the debtor or that the fines and fees ordered by the court have already been paid. Participating courts will work with taxpayers to resolve legitimate claims quickly and fairly.
For more information, see the program website at trip.georgiacourts.gov. Questions about individual cases or debts should be directed to the applicable court.