By Kurtis Ming

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Franchise Tax Board has suspended the intercept program, which takes taxpayers’ refunds to pay off debt, saying it will stop raiding taxpayer’s money to cover things like parking tickets, tolls, or other fines through August.

The FTB says this will offer relief to taxpayers during the public health emergency.

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As we’ve repeatedly reported, the intercept program serves as a collection agency for more than 600 local government agencies across the state. The program has raided refunds from the wrong people more than 600 times since 2017, forcing taxpayers to fight to get their money back.

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We discovered the program requires local agencies to send a warning letter before intercepting a tax refund, but the state only requires those agencies to perform a Google search to obtain addresses.  Those warning letters often have gone to the wrong people, or the wrong address, giving taxpayers no opportunity to clear up a mistake.

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We asked the FTB what they are going to do to fix the flaws we exposed while the program is suspended through August. They did not answer saying: “The intercept program is being suspended to provide relief for taxpayers due to the ongoing public health emergency and the severe economic impact it has had on many Californians. While the decision to suspend the program is unrelated to issues you have been inquiring about, FTB remains committed to improving our program, including reducing instances of improper intercepts.”