"It's a lot less painful than being locked up because you didn't pay a fine that you agreed to pay and had the ability to pay," Jackson said. "I do not want to crowd the jail with minor traffic offenders who simply will not pay."
Jackson said the defendant entered a no contest plea in June of 2014 and was placed on probation to give her time to pay the fine. But she didn’t pay it off.
The new system includes requirements that are meant to protect people whose tax refunds are targeted. The court must send notices telling people they owe the money and that an unpaid fine could be intercepted from a tax refund. That notice must give the person 30 days to clear up the matter with the court.
Once the Department of Revenue flags a tax filer as someone who owes a debt, the person is sent another notice and a chance to register a dispute. Jackson said those safeguards will make sure that the system doesn’t deduct money from the wrong person or from someone who has already paid.
No estimate was available Monday of how much courts might recover under the program.
But Jackson, who pushed the state to authorize the system, said the Atlanta court has already filed more than 100 requests for tax intercepts.
“We’re not here to raise money,” Jackson said. “Our job is public safety. But when there is a sanction in the form of a fine and it’s totally ignored, you cannot tolerate that.”
Other courts taking part in the initial pilot project are Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court, Bibb County Superior Court, Conyers Municipal Court, Dalton Municipal Court, Ludowici Municipal Court and Millen Municipal Court.