Top 500 Tax Delinquents List Still Public

A California attorney’s bid to have the state tax collectors’ list of Top 500 delinquent taxpayers declared an unconstitutional privacy violation failed Friday.

Ernest J. Franceschi, Jr., argued the Franchise Tax Board’s public list of “Top 500” income tax debtors violated his right to privacy, but the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles on Friday rejected his claim without ruling on the constitutionality of the state list.

In addition, the appeal court upheld a $5,000 sanction against Franceschi for splitting his legal claims between state and federal courts, knowing one claim would be barred because it had been resolved by the other court, the opinion found.

Franceschi allegedly owed the state $242,000 in taxes and was advised in 2014 that unless it was paid his name, address and occupation, along with the amount owed could be posted on the FTB’s public website.

Three days before the FTB deadline to pay, Franceschi filed a federal claim seeking to block release of his name. The federal claim was dismissed as defective on procedural grounds, the appeals court said. Rather than renew the claim in federal court, Franceschi petitioned the state Superior Court to block the FTB.

The state petition was dismissed for his attempt to split jurisdiction between the state and federal courts, making the second action, in state court, frivolous. The trial judge sanctioned him $5,000 as an “experienced litigator” for filing a frivolous claim.

Franceschi’s name does not appear on the FTB’s current Top 500 list.

Case: Franceschi v. Franchise Tax Board, No. B267719



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