There's good news for individuals and businesses that owe back taxes to the State of Louisiana.
After netting $435 million last year from a tax amnesty program—more than double the $200 million that lawmakers had hoped to bring in—the Louisiana Department of Revenue has announced that it's bringing the program back.
In January, lawmakers agreed to use nearly $32 million of unspent money from Louisiana's 2013 tax amnesty program to offset a budget imbalance.
Initially, the program was to be implemented in phases where each year, penalties and interest charged the delinquent taxpayer would be higher than the initial 50 percent stated.
Dist. 10 state Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, said this year, 50 percent is the magic number once again.
"When you look at this tax amnesty, six or seven percent of the people that owe taxes – they are the ones who owe the most money," Reynolds said. "The rest of them are just miniscule. So, if you entice those big tax people to pay their taxes and get the amnesty, it works out better."
Reynolds said the current state budget is almost $1 billion in the red.
"So, we need to get as much money as we can," he said.
New to the program this year is the option for individual and business taxpayers to pay their overdue tax liabilities through installment payments over a six-month period.
State lawmakers expect to collect $100 million from delinquent taxpayers, and they've already spent the anticipated money in this year's budget to help pay for the Medicaid program that provides health care services to the poor, disabled and elderly.
"It will go to Health and Hospitals and other places we've had to cut," Reynolds said. "Roads and bridges will be a big important thing, too. The money could go there."
Division of Administration makes the determination, he said.
"Then we will ratify it in the Legislature."
Taxpayers identified as noncompliant should receive notice before the program starts.
Beginning at 12:01 a.m., October 15 through 11:59 p.m., November 14, eligible taxpayers can apply online at www.ldrtaxamnesty.com or call 866-782-9241 for more information.
Louisiana offered a similar amnesty period last year and has one more planned for 2015, though next year's will have less generous terms. Unlike in 2013, the revenue department won't accept tax credits as payment for back-owed taxes.
At the conclusion of the 2015 amnesty period, there shall be no new amnesty program implemented by the Department of Revenue before Jan. 1, 2025.
Taxpayers in the following categories are eligible to apply for amnesty:
Taxpayers who failed to file a tax return or report
Taxpayers who claimed incorrect credits or deductions
Taxpayers who failed to report all income
Taxpayers who misrepresented or omitted any tax due, interest and penalties that were due
Taxpayers involved in a criminal investigation or criminal litigation for taxes administered by Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) do NOT quality for the Fresh Start program.
Amnesty may be applied to all taxes administered and collected by LDR except:
Motor Fuel Taxes
Prepaid 411 Sales Tax
Oil Field Restoration (Oil)
Oil Field Restoration (Gas)
Inspection and Supervision Fee
Penalties for failure to submit information reports that are not based on an underpayment of tax (i.e. Withholding L3 penalty)
Certain taxpayers under audit or in administrative or judicial litigation
Tax balances due prior to January 1, 2013.
Taxpayers are eligible for Fresh Start even if LDR currently has a garnishment on wages or a levy on bank accounts, provided the amnesty amount due is paid during the amnesty period.
Contact LDR so that the garnishment or bank levy can be released after full payment.
Some taxpayers in special circumstances do not qualify for amnesty. LDR can assist in determining qualifcations.
If a Louisiana tax return has never been filed, all outstanding tax returns must be filed, and payment made for the tax and 50 percent of the interest balance owed.
For more information visit www.ldrtaxamnesty. com or call 1-866-782-9241 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.