Robert V. Matthews

Robert V. ("Bob") Matthews, a real estate developer and venture capitalist from Middlebury. Photo taken in 2003. (Kathleen Cei photo / December 11, 2013)

His penchant for controversy wasn't the reason Matthews was included on that tax-debtor listing.

Sullivan says Matthews' name was included because the amount he owed made him one of Connecticut's top tax dodgers, and because state law specifically authorizes the publication of the names and amounts owed by state tax debtors. The same law stops the release of any information dealing with why a name is removed, Sullivan says.

"I cannot tell you how it was paid off, when he paid it, or if it was written off," says Sullivan.

"I can't say whether it makes sense or not," he adds. "I don't make those rules anymore."

Sullivan says that any tax debts that his agency decides to write off as uncollectable are at some point subject to review by both the state Treasurer's Office and the state Comptroller.

Apparently, neither of those offices are allowed to reveal any questions they may have about a particular tax write-off, nor can they release any other taxpayer information.

Sullivan declined to comment on whether or not the legislature should change the law to allow the release of more information about how tax debts are handled. "This is just a huge area of sensitivity."

Sullivan is worried that revealing too much about tax dodgers could backfire.

"We don't want to create a situation where it's a disincentive for people to settle [their tax debts]," he adds. Some tax debtors might shy away from a negotiated settlement if they knew the details would become public.

Widlitz, a Democrat from Guilford, says she thinks lawmakers need to take a close look at how tax debts and debt write-offs are handled.

"I think it would be reasonable to get more information on how that system works," Widlitz says.

 

ghladky@ctnow.com

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