Manassas Park to boot cars of those who owe taxes

Residents who don't pay their back taxes will be booted. Photo: Paylock IPT

No matter the setting, the phrase “getting the boot” is never a good thing – especially when it’s going to cost you. And if you're a resident of Manassas Park and you owe back taxes, you might soon find a boot on your car.

City officials say that they're going after 1,100 residents who owe a total of $850,000 in back taxes, each of whom owe at least $200 on their own accounts. If they don't pay off their debt, the resident will find a 16-pound boot on their car.

William Eskridge’s wife told him to get moving and avoid the new plan -- his bill was due last October.

“Soon as we heard about it we came down and paid it,” says Eskridge. "I guess it does make sense at a certain point. I mean if you have to pay your taxes you have to pay ‘em -- it got me here!" he laughs.

In a video produced by Smart Boot maker PayLock, you can see how it is different from a traditional wheel boot. It requires you to punch in a code in order to release the boot from the tire – a code you get only after you’ve paid your bills and the $150 boot fee.

Some drivers in the area think the plan is too extreme, but the city is owed $850,000 in unpaid taxes on 1,100 different accounts by people who have ignored numerous bills and letters urging them to pay up.

“This is kind of our last resort,” says Manassas Park Treasurer Winnie O’Neal, who explains that the city has tried working with people who owe, but for any number of reasons they haven’t responded yet.

The situation gets worse for residents who do not settle their tax accounts within three days of being booted. After those 72 hours, Manassas Park officials say that their cars will be towed and sold.

"I guess we’re flexing the muscle a little bit – not out of frustration, but we just want to collect the taxes owed to the city,” O'Neal says.

It seems to be working for people like William Eskridge, who paid to keep the boot off his car (and to keep the peace with his wife):

"She's gonna be happy, I gotta call her when I'm done. She'll be relieved."

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