City's 1st Chief Collections Officer Cracks Down on Tax Deadbeats

The former head of Philadelphia Gas Works is leading the charge against tax deadbeats in the city.

Tom Knudsen will be Philadelphia’s first chief collections officer. Knudson was in charge of PGW for more than a decade and is credited with getting more people to pay their gas bills. He also helped the school district reduce spending.

In his new role, Knudsen will be responsible with helping the city collect outstanding taxes and fees. His first task will be to go after people and companies who write bad checks to the city.

“There was an individual who wrote 42 bad checks,” said Amy Kurland, the city's inspector general. “There was also a company that wrote 87 bad checks. A part of the problem here is that if somebody writes a bad check and nobody comes after them, they’re going to continue to write more.”

Investigators in Kurland’s office recently looked at several of the city offices responsible for collecting revenue. Kurland says they took in between $350,000 and $570,000 worth of bad checks in 2012 and did nothing to get the money.

“The ball was dropped on every level,” she said. “When people came in to write checks, nobody screened them to make sure they weren’t good.”

Knudsen plans to create a system to make sure the city starts collecting what it’s owed.

“Our chief collection officer is going to put system measures in place that will hopefully prevent this kind of thing and then hopefully go after the people who wrote the bad checks," said Kurland.

Knudsen will officially begin his new role later this month. A news conference on the city’s crackdown on bad checks will be held on Thursday.

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