By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
If you’re one of the 170,000 Kentucky taxpayers who owe back state taxes, now’s your chance to take care of them.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Monday was the first day of a tax amnesty period that ends Nov. 30 and provides an opportunity for those behind in their state taxes to make good without fines or penalties and with only half the usual interest charges.
“This is a great way to add significant revenue to the state budget in a short amount of time,” Beshear said. “Offering amnesty also helps responsible taxpayers who’ve faced hard times and want to get out of trouble a way to meet their obligations and save them significant money. They can pay now or pay more later.”
Those who apply for tax amnesty can expect on average a savings of about 30 percent because of the reduced interest and penalties. But those who don’t can expect to pay more.
“This is, however, a limited time offer,” Beshear said. “This program begins today and ends Nov. 30, so let the countdown begin.”
Lori Flanery, secretary of Finance and Administration, said after Nov. 30 her cabinet will aggressively pursue those who owe back taxes, and penalties will include “enhanced collection fees of 20 to 25 percent and the interest rate will also go up.”
After Nov. 30 an additional 2 percent interest will be applied to unpaid amnesty-eligible tax bills. Those who do take advantage of the amnesty period will have to remain current on their taxes for the following three years or face reinstated fines and penalties.
Beshear estimates the amnesty program could net the state at least $40 million, the amount the state collected in its previous tax amnesty in 2002. But then, Beshear said, the state had records of only 23,000 who were behind on tax obligations as compared with the 170,000 now.
Anyone who has not filed a state tax return since Dec. 1, 2001 is eligible for the amnesty. Flanery said her cabinet has already sent notifications to about 168,000 delinquent taxpayers. They may pay by mail, online or in person, even through their smart phones, she said.
Flanery said those with questions can call the tax amnesty toll-free hotline at 1-855-KYTAXES (1-855-598-2937) or visit the website at www.amnesty.ky.gov. The site also includes blank applications for those who might not have been mailed notifications and applications.
The 170,000 on record as being delinquent may not cover all who owe back taxes. State records include those with tax liens but may not include all who have failed to file returns.
Flanery said her office has received 1,400 phone calls about the tax amnesty since Friday “and we actually a couple of checks in the mail.”
Beshear said the effort to collect back taxes coincides with the efforts of a Blue Ribbon Tax Commission headed by Lt.Gov. Jerry Abramson, which is looking at ways to modernize and update the state’s tax code in ways to make it fairer and more productive.
“But before we propose changes, we want to make sure we’re collecting the taxes that we already assess,” Beshear said.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.
By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
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