Late on Taxes? Didn’t File? A “Tax Amnesty” Could Help You Make Things Right.

Proposal would give scofflaws a second chance, while raising fresh revenues for the state.

(Creativa Images/Shutterstock)

(Creativa Images/Shutterstock)

Maybe you put off paying your taxes a little too long. Maybe you never filed in the first place. If that’s the case — and you’re worried about state government cracking down on you — some good news may be in the offing: A tax amnesty could be on the way.

Rep. Marguerite Quinn, a Bucks County Republican is proposing a tax amnesty to give scofflaws a chance to make good while at the same time raising fresh funds for state government. Taxpayers seeking amnesty would receive reduced interest on their unpaid taxes, as well as a eduction of other penalties.

“Given our current political and fiscal climate, it is my sincere belief that a tax amnesty program will help bring in much-needed revenue that is already owed to the Commonwealth,” she said in a memorandum to colleagues.

The state’s last tax amnesty took place in 2010 — a 54-day window between April and June that year in which delinquent taxpayers were allowed to come forward without fear of consequences. Authorities expected to raise $190 million at the time; instead, Quinn says, the state received $250 million in back taxes.

The proposal comes while state officials remain in a tug-of-war over completing the 2015-16 fiscal year budget. One hangup: How to pay for a growing budget. Quinn’s suggestion wouldn’t provide ongoing funding — but it would provide a one-time shot of cash to cover at least some of the operating expenses.

Quinn’s full memorandum below:

From: Representative Marguerite Quinn
To: All House members
Subject: Proposed Legislation – Tax Amnesty Program

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to enact a tax amnesty program in Pennsylvania for the first time since 2010.

In short, my legislation will allow tax delinquents to come forward and file tax returns in exchange for reduced interest on unpaid tax, abatement on penalties and, in some instances, a limited “look back” in the statute of limitation.

The 2010 PA tax amnesty program was widely considered a success; over one million notices were mailed to businesses and individuals with state tax delinquencies and nearly 60,000 taxpayers took advantage of the program. The amnesty period, which lasted only 54 days, generated over $250 million in back taxes. Not only did the revenue generated far exceed projections, all administrative costs were covered and significant monies ($52 million all told) were generated for the subsequent fiscal year.

Given our current political and fiscal climate, it is my sincere belief that a tax amnesty program will help bring in much needed revenue that is already owed to the Commonwealth. If you have any questions, please contact Cathy Waddington in my office.

Thank you for your consideration of my proposal.