Kentucky Launching Tax Amnesty Program

Sep 20, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky.  --  In hopes of reaping a financial windfall, Kentucky officials will allow people and businesses owing back taxes to pay up under an amnesty offer that begins on Oct. 1.

Finance Secretary Lori Flanery said Thursday the amnesty offer allows delinquent taxpayers to avoid penalties and interest on the amounts they owe. A similar offer a decade ago resulted in more than 23,000 taxpayers shelling out $40 million.

"This program will generate much-needed revenue for vital services in Kentucky at a time when dollars are hard to come by," Flanery said in a statement.

The offer expires Nov. 30.

Delinquent taxpayers will be getting notifications in the mail telling them the amounts they owe and how to take advantage of the amnesty offer. Those who ignore the offer will face more severe penalties.

Lawmakers authorized the amnesty offer earlier this year at the request of Gov. Steve Beshear, who expects it to reap $61 million for a cash-strapped state budget that's still feeling the pinch of economic recession.

The money will be used to help balance the state's two-year, $19 billion budget, which already requires most state agencies and programs to be cut by 8.4 percent.

Kentucky has a list of nearly 170,000 people and businesses behind on their tax payments. Most are from Kentucky, but the list includes people from across the country and beyond.

Mack Gillim, the state's chief tax collector, said the amnesty program is a chance for delinquent taxpayers "to establish themselves as compliant."

"It's not only a fresh start for them, but it also helps those who comply every day with all the tax laws by creating an equitable distribution of the tax burden," Gillim said in a statement. "We're all in this together."

The state also is planning an advertising campaign to spread the word about the amnesty offer. That initiative will include broadcast, print and online advertising, and a push by Department of Revenue to speak to civic clubs and other groups throughout Kentucky.