Maryland Tax Amnesty Program Fizzles

The State of Maryland has completed its two-month income tax amnesty period during which taxpayers with delinquent taxes could bring their tax accounts up to date without the additional cost of interest and penalties. The amnesty period ran from September 1 through October 31.

Legislators hoped to collect $70 million in the amnesty program, which was to help offset an anticipated budget shortfall of $1.7 billion by the end of the next fiscal year. So far, the program only garnered $11.3 million.

There's still some hope that checks mailed at the last minute will add a measurable amount to that already collected. "It's fairly typical for people to wait until the last day," said Michael D. Golden, spokesman for the Maryland comptroller's office. "It's possible that we might see a huge number of returns that were postmarked on the final day. We certainly hope we get a lot more than we've collected already."

This is the second time Maryland has offered an amnesty program. The first program occurred in 1987, and $34 million was collected at that time.

Taxpayers who still owe delinquent taxes and who did not participate in the amnesty program will face stiffer penalties when they are ultimately brought to justice. The fine for failure to pay has been increased from $5,000 to $10,000, and the law also provides for a jail term for delinquent taxpayers of up to five years.

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