In an effort to collect tens of millions of dollars owed to the Commonwealth in back taxes, Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the kick-off of Kentucky's Tax Amnesty program.
Today through the end of November, most people and businesses that owe overdue taxes to the Commonwealth can apply for amnesty. This means they can pay up without facing penalties or fees and owe only half the interest due.
"This is a great way to add significant revenue to the state budget in a short amount of time," said Gov. Beshear. "Offering amnesty also helps responsible taxpayers who've faced tough 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."
While the current database shows nearly 170,000 individuals and businesses qualifying for tax amnesty, others may also owe back taxes. The list of delinquent debtors includes those businesses and individuals who have a tax lien on file, but does not include those who may owe taxes and have not filed. The state is continuously gathering taxpayer information to discover non-filers and under-reporters.
Each individual and business taking advantage of Tax Amnesty will save an average of 30 percent of what they would otherwise be charged. The average delinquent taxpayer owes about $5,000, while the average tax debt for a delinquent business is $25,000.
Those who don't apply for amnesty will face higher penalties plus owe an additional 2 percent in interest. Amnesty participants must remain current on their taxes over the next three years or face reinstated penalties, fees and interest.
Ten years ago, the Commonwealth conducted a similar amnesty program. That program included 140,000 delinquent taxpayers and netted the state some $41 million.
"We are continually identifying delinquent taxpayers in order to maximize the amount we collect. We expect to bring in more than we did in 2002," said Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Lori H. Flanery. "If anyone has any questions about whether they owe, we encourage them to call us or visit a special website we've developed just for Tax Amnesty."
The toll-free hotline set up by the Department of Revenue to handle Tax Amnesty questions is 855-KYTAXES (855-598-2937). The website -- www.amnesty.ky.gov -- provides more information and has a searchable database of delinquent taxpayers. It also has all forms needed to apply for amnesty.
"We're making it as easy as possible for people to determine if they owe back taxes and to create multiple ways to pay," said Tom Miller, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Revenue. "They can mail in the payment or use a credit card. They can pay at any of our 10 offices around the state, or they can pay online using a website we have created just for Tax Amnesty."
The amnesty program applies to taxes owed only to the Kentucky Department of Revenue for eligible tax periods ending after December 1, 2001 and prior to October 1, 2011. While most on the delinquent tax roll reside in Kentucky, the list includes people in all 50 states plus several other countries.
A new advertising campaign with the theme "Good For You, Good For Kentucky," will help generate awareness and spread the word about Tax Amnesty across the Commonwealth. In addition to newspaper, TV and online ads, Department of Revenue officials will make presentations to numerous groups and appear at public events.