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Tax amnesty temporarily shut down

by Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s tax amnesty program is on hold until December because an incorrect batch of letters went out advertising the program.

The Department of Revenue announced Tuesday that the program was suspended until Dec. 1 and will run until Dec. 31.

Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said some letters sent to taxpayers notifying them about their eligibility went to an old list of delinquent taxpayers. People who no longer owe taxes received amnesty letters, while others eligible for the program didn’t get notified, he said.

“It’s just a human mistake. Mistakes happen,” Barfield said. “I don’t think it will have any material net impact on the amnesty program.”

Barfield said the two-week delay of the program that had started Monday allows time for corrected letters to be mailed. He said the postponement will ensure delinquent taxpayers have the full 30-day window to participate in the program that lets them pay what they owe with lessened penalties and interest.

While the disruption isn’t expected to lessen tax collections, Barfield said it will cost up to $200,000 to send new letters and rework the program dates.

Amnesty payments received before the program was suspended will be applied to taxpayers’ accounts when the amnesty period resumes on Dec. 1, the revenue department said.

It’s the third and final year in a row such a period is being offered to people with back-owed taxes. State lawmakers hoped to raise $50 million with the latest amnesty, but Barfield said he expects the program to bring in as much as $73 million for the treasury.

Those who agree to settle their tax debts with the state will have to pay the full amount of delinquent taxes, 83 percent of the interest and 67 percent of the penalties due. Taxpayers involved in criminal investigations or criminal litigation for state tax issues don’t qualify.

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