The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and the California State Board of Equalization (SBOE) are keeping a naughty list, and trust us — you do not want to be on it. Its purpose is nasty, and made even worse in the bad economic times of this longstanding Lesser Depression.

Pursuant to a recently enacted law, the FTB and SBOE must make public a list of the 500 top tax delinquencies in excess of $100,000. As of January 1, 2012, real estate licensees who are delinquent in paying California corporate, personal income and sales and use taxes will be dragged out to the stockades to receive a healthy dose of public reproach.

As a purported measure of consumer protection, the list is to include details of any occupational or professional license the no-good insolvent rascals hold. Thus, if a licensed real estate broker or agent is delinquent on their taxes in excess of $100,000, their name, along with their license number, will appear on the list for all to see.

Decidedly worse than the threat of public embarrassment, the Department of Real Estate (DRE) has the authority to suspend or revoke the license of any real estate broker or agent whose name appears on the dreaded list. [For more information on the DRE’s practice of license suspension and revocation, see the December 2010 first tuesday article, The rabbit and the greyhound: DRE disciplinary action and broker supervision.]

first tuesday take: Sounds like a 21st century debtor’s prison, since California’s  20th century jails are overflowing.

As though the California brokerage community hasn’t suffered enough over this jobless Lesser Depression, state and federal regulators have devised a way to brand them with a scarlet letter. It seems a bit barbaric — the practice of an uncivilized people, operating under some backwards notion of justice as a stoning in the town square. The last time we checked, California still has courts for enforcing collection.

Has anyone caught on to the inherent irony of this idea? Let us run-down the (il)logic: California’s real estate brokers and agents have been, on average, earning 25% of their usual annual income for the last five years (if they are lucky). As a result of this virtual unemployment, they have fallen behind on their taxes (not to mention payments on their revolving debts).

And the logical step is to strip them of their professional license, rendering them completely impotent and incapable of earning a fee and thus eliminate any possibility they will ever pay their delinquent taxes? Of course, all this mandates these financially distressed licensees either leave the state to practice elsewhere or stay and marshal their learned talents for use as principal dealers. [For an analysis of California’s dismal jobs market and its effect on real estate, see the September 2011 first tuesday article, Reeling from California’s lack of jobs.]

This is a woefully regressive measure launched on behalf of the regulators — tax the jobless out of the job market. What’s next? Revoke a real estate agent’s license for defaulting on his mortgage because a lobbyist thinks it will put an end to his lender’s delinquencies? [For insight into the ways to stay afloat during the Lesser Depression, see the October 2011 first tuesday article, 10 ways to beat the real estate crisis.]

re: “Multiple Taxes: Delinquent Taxpayers Subject to Expanded Exposure, Penalties” from