State of Florida launching tax amnesty program July 1

Florida residents who owe back taxes can settle their debts without fear of penalties and criminal prosecution under an amnesty program that runs from July 1 to September 1.

Eligible taxes are sales tax, fuel tax, corporate income tax, communications services tax, gross receipts tax, and Florida’s intangible tax. The amnesty applies to tax liabilities due prior to July 1, 2010, and interest may be halved in some cases. Taxpayers must sign an amnesty agreement to participate.
 
Julie Pendleton, a manager at Dallas-based Ryan, a tax services firm, said in a statement that taxpayers should weigh the pros and cons.
 
"For example, participating taxpayers should note they are required to waive any right to claim a refund, protest, or initiate any administrative proceeding that challenges any assessment administered under the program. You should be sure participating in the program is more beneficial than protesting the audit," Pendleton said. "The bill permits the Florida Department of Revenue to rescind a grant of amnesty in the event of fraud, misrepresentation, or mutual mistake of fact."
 
Taxpayers can request payments be made over time. The taxpayer can make a minimum down payment of 12.5 percent of the outstanding amount and then pay every month.
 
Taxpayers who have entered into a settlement are not eligible to participate. Those who are being audited may apply for amnesty, although they must pay the tax and 75 percent of the interest.
 
The state predicts the amnesty program will generate $82.9 million in revenue. The legislature appropriated $1.2 million to administer the program. It is the state’s first amnesty program since 2003.
 
 
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