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For tax cheats, meltdown prompts amnesty offers

•  State Bar News     updated  2008/12/15 09:07


Turns out it's a pretty good time to be a tax cheat.

Desperate to bring in revenue in the middle of a recession, states across the country are adopting tax amnesty programs, offering to let people pay their past-due tax bills with little or no penalties or interest.

"Something is better than nothing," said Dino DiCianno, executive director of the Nevada Taxation Department. DiCianno said Nevada gave up more than $14 million in penalties and interest to collect nearly $41 million between July and October.

Oklahoma, like Nevada, generated about twice as much as it expected from its offer of amnesty, raising $82 million through its 90-day Clean Slate program for businesses and individuals. New York has a program under way, and Connecticut and Massachusetts are drawing up theirs. California debated one before rejecting it in favor of stiffer penalties. Delaware's incoming governor campaigned on the idea. A similar program is being considered for Louisiana when its lawmakers return in April.

State after state is facing a disastrous drop-off in tax revenue because of the stock market collapse and the recession. Many states have already cut their budgets and started laying off employees.


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