Monday, August 2, 2010

Public Shaming of Professionals in Minnesota

The usually excellent, Minneapolis Star Tribune has a "whistle-blower" section where it is reported (by reporter Jane Friedman) that the following professional licenses were suspended for non-payment of tax obligations apparently due the state:

"The licenses of the following individuals were suspended or revoked in June or July after the state said they were delinquent on their taxes.  A licensing board requires a tax clearance certificate from the Minnesota Department of Revenue before reinstating licenses.

• Robin Lee Booren, veterinarian, Marine on St. Croix

• Marilyn E. Vigil, social worker, St. Paul

• Jenise L. Teske, respiratory therapist, Mounds View

• Thomas W. Hennessey, physician, North Oaks

• Victor Lazaron, physician, Intervale, N.H.

• Robert Estes, first responder, St. Paul

• David Nalls, first responder, Long Lake

• Kevin Holmstrom, professional engineer, Cottage Grove"
This caught my eye for obvious reasons.  I believe it is only proper and correct that you report and pay your taxes.  Here are the problems that I have with this report.
In most instances to become a "professional" you undertake a long, expensive , and, yes, taxing odyssey.  As a professional you may operate a business, you may attempt to employ others, and by definition you provide extraordinary services to others that require specialized knowledge and expertise that in most instances you are required to keep current.  While you are doing these things you don't make enough money to pay your tax bill the state suspends your license--making it impossible to pay your bills!  Not only that, because your business outcomes--that are separate and apart from your professional education, training, caring, and provision of services--are such that you can't afford to pay your tax bills, we are going to deprive our community of your skills.  So you're screwed, the community is screwed, oh--and the local newspaper is going to further your shame and embarrassment by publishing your name under the "whistle blower" section.   NICE!
Look, I have a dog in this fight--I was a horrible businessman.  Do not do what I did, get help.  My lack of business savvy, and inattention to my reporting and payment of taxes was far more egregious than what is reflected in this news report and I well-deserve my consequences.  But what has me riled, here, is the public shaming of professionals whose only apparent offense was failure to remain current on state of Minnesota tax obligations.  Congratulations Minnesota on losing health care providers. a social worker, and an engineer; and, good work Star-Trib for marching them through the streets like so many corrupt Chinese public officials.


  1. I can't believe there is no comment, left at this post. This is a very good post and great point about how dysfunctionally we treat professionals and those of our children who at great financial risk incur debt and still try to provide services to us. Excellent points well made.


  2. My name is Kevin and I am on the above list. Not only did I pay my taxes, I paid more and ended up getting a refund. And then I am punished by a newspaper who does not know what is going on and really does not need to do this. How are they helping the public here? And shame on Minnesota Revenue for even doing this to me when I was working with them all along to resolve the late return. I guess in the land of excessive taxes what else can you expect.

  3. Yes, and those who really do illegal actions like molest girls during exams,falsify medical records and prescribe drugs that they know are damaging will go scott free.