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Tax collectors cut with more than $1 billion in unpaid taxes

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For the first time, Wisconsinites owe more than $1 billion in overdue state taxes.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported the amount of delinquent taxes, fees and interest rose 27 percent in the fiscal year ending last July.

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And if everybody paid up, about one-sixth of Wisconsin's massive budget deficit would disappear.

But because of the deficit, Gov. Jim Doyle says the state does not have the money to keep the tax collectors and auditors it now has.

Thirty-two full-time revenue employees would lose their jobs under Doyle's proposed budget.

Union leader Bryan Kennedy says there are not enough tax collectors as it is. And he says there will be even more scofflaws because of the new taxes Doyle approved last month, the closing of a corporate tax loophole, and the expansion of the sales tax to include Internet purchases and music downloads.

Assembly GOP leader Jeff Fitzgerald, Juneau, says it's amazing that Democrats want to keep raising taxes when they can't collect the ones they have.

Wisconsin Department of Revenue Secretary Roger Ervin says technology helps his agency keep better tabs on who owes what and it's not fair to say there will be more scofflaws if his workforce is cut.

A Senate hearing on the issue is set for March 25.

About one-fifth of the overdue taxes are from at least nine years ago.

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