Massachusetts offers 60-day tax amnesty through May 15
BOSTON (AP) — Scofflaw taxpayers are getting a chance to pay up their delinquent Massachusetts accounts without facing a fine.
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue announced a 60-day amnesty program that began Monday and runs through May 15. The amnesty applies to tax liabilities billed on or before Jan. 1, 2015.
About 24,000 taxpayers will receive a tax amnesty notice from the revenue department this week letting them know they qualify for the program. Notices will include the amount of the unpaid penalty to be waived if the balance is paid in full during the amnesty period.
The Legislature approved the plan as part of a larger proposal by Gov. Charlie Baker to close a projected $768 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. Lawmakers hope the amnesty program will collect $18 million.
The state will waive all assessed, unpaid penalties for taxpayers who make a full payment on all outstanding taxes and interest for any period listed on the notice by the May 15 deadline.
“This is an opportunity for taxpayers who are delinquent on their taxes, and were not included in the 2014 amnesty, to step up and pay their tax debt to support critical government services,” Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter said in a statement.
The amnesty program covers a number of tax types not included in the 2014 tax amnesty, including corporate excise taxes, estate taxes, fiduciary income taxes, and individual use taxes on motor vehicles.
Taxpayers who have entered into a payment agreement with the department before the start of the amnesty period will qualify to participate, as will taxpayers with pending appeals who withdraw their appeals.
The amnesty won’t be offered to taxpayers who have already paid outstanding taxes and interest and only owe penalties; taxpayers who have signed settlement agreements; or taxpayers who are the subject of a tax-related criminal investigation.
The tax amnesty may not be the last for Massachusetts.
Baker has proposed in his 2016 budget plan another program that he says could generate up to $100 million to help close an estimated $1.8 billion budget hole in the upcoming fiscal year. That proposal is aimed at taxpayers of all tax types who have not previously filed in Massachusetts and taxpayers known to the revenue department who have not filed and have not yet been assessed by the agency for failing to file.
That amnesty program, which still must be approved by lawmakers, would run for all of the 2016 fiscal year that begins July 1. Baker said it would create “incentives for businesses to follow through and pay what they owe.” The governor said the last time a similar tax amnesty program ran in 2002, it generated $176 million.