TORONTO - Ontario's financial watchdog says the Liberal government plans to write off $1.4 billion in unpaid taxes, mainly from businesses.

Auditor General Jim McCarter says in his annual report released today that tax collectors at the Ministry of Finance wait an average of seven months before they even try to call someone about unpaid taxes.

The province is owed about $2.4 billion in taxes, and McCarter warns the chances of collecting money drop dramatically as time passes.

Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency, is criticized in the report for failing to control cost overruns on major projects, and McCarter warns Presto will be one of the most expensive fare-card systems in the world at $700 million to develop.

McCarter also found Ontario has the highest rate of criminal cases thrown out and the lowest conviction rates in Canada, but officials cannot explain the reasons for the poor results.

The auditor's report also criticizes the Ontario Provincial Police for allowing overtime costs to jump 60 per cent since 2005, and for not being able to locate 200 vehicles in its fleet.

And McCarter says there are too many needless tests like X-rays and CT scans done at private clinics in Ontario but not enough cancer screening.