Iowa attorney taking action against city withholding tax refunds

Des Moines withholding tax returns for unpaid tickets

DES MOINES - Withholding tax refunds because you didn't pay a speeding ticket. That's what the City of Des Moines has been doing, and now one central Iowa lawyer is stepping in.

Senator Brad Zaun recently introduced a bill banning automated traffic enforcement cameras.

"These cameras that came in, first of all, about half the money goes to those foreign based companies, Gatso and Redflex is the companies in the metropolitan area and i just think it's an abuse to the citizens," said Senator Brad Zaun, (R)-Urbandale.

If you don't pay your citation, the state could withhold that money from your state income tax refund as a penalty.

Under the State of Iowa Offset Program, the state can withhold any delinquent payments owed to the state or local governments. One Central Iowa Attorney says that's not right. 

"We strongly object to the characterization of speed camera citations on being the equivalent as an adjudicated obligation," said Attorney Jim Larew.

Attorney Jim Larew is working with two Iowa men who were wronged by the system.

"They demonstrate injustice of using a program like this against people like Mr. Fett or Mr. Livingood."

Larew describes Jason Fett as a trained law enforcement personnel and says he knows how radar works, claiming there was an error in his speed when traveling on I-235.

Larew says fett contested and was found not liable by a judge.

"And yet still he's received this threat of collection or forfeiture of his tax income."

And then there's Francis Livingood.

According to Larew, Livingood never received a notice of his violation, only when he received a letter notifying him of the collection of his tax income.

"We argue in the lawsuit that it is unlawful. It's up for the court to determine whether the claims that our clients are making are one's that the court agrees with," said Larew.

Larew says he believes there are more people who have received notices about the city's intent to collect from income tax refunds.

As far as the ban on traffic cameras, Senator Zaun says it's now eligible for floor debate and is positive it will pass.

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