2003-01-18 / Front Page

Deadline Near On Tax Amnesty

By Miriam Rosenberg
Deadline Near On Tax Amnesty By Miriam Rosenberg

By Miriam Rosenberg

The deadline for the New York State Tax Amnesty Program is fast approaching, and unless you act quickly you may miss out on it. New York State Commissioner of Taxation & Finance Arthur J. Roth announced the Tax Amnesty Program, which was part of New York State’s 2002-2003 budgets, on November 18 of last year.

The program, which began on November 18 and ends on January 31, is run by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and it grants eligible taxpayers a waiver of penalty, a two percent reduction on the interest rate on liabilities which are owed and immunity from any and all administrative, civil and criminal prosecution for the time the amnesty covers. The amnesty covers tax periods ending before January 1, 2001. There are only two exceptions to the January 1 date. For taxes that are filed quarterly, such as sales taxes, the amnesty is for tax periods ending on or before February 28, 2001. The tax period for those filing estate taxes is a date of death that occurred on or before February 1, 2000.

"This high-tech program will give taxpayers with unresolved tax liabilities, as well as non-filers, a chance to resolve outstanding tax issues," said Commissioner Roth, at the time the program was announced. "I urge everyone with tax liabilities to catch up before we catch them. The program will also encourage voluntary compliance in the future by bringing non-filers onto the tax rolls."

Among those who may be eligible for Tax Amnesty are taxpayers who failed to file a required return, understated a tax liability or have an outstanding liability. There are several restrictions on businesses with more than 500 employees that would make them ineligible for the program.

Most state taxes are included in the program. Some of the taxes eligible for Tax Amnesty include (but are not limited to): Personal income tax; New York City personal income tax ; Personal withholding tax; Sales and Compensating use tax; Corporation and franchise taxes; Estate taxes and Gift taxes.

"Amnesty will be a valuable tool in allowing taxpayers with outstanding liabilities or non-filers to wipe the slate clean," continued Commissioner Roth. "At the same time, making use of computer technology and enforcement partnerships with the federal Internal Revenue Service and local law enforcement agencies, we have undertaken an aggressive campaign against tax delinquents.

"Using the Internet, we hope to use state-of-the-art technology to help bring anyone with outstanding tax obligations into compliance."

If a resident has been granted amnesty under previous programs, such as the amnesty programs of 1994 or 1996-1997, he or she cannot file again for the same tax. Also, you cannot apply for amnesty for any tax period during which you were under any criminal investigation or pending criminal or civil legal action related to the tax and tax period.

For those who fail to take advantage of the amnesty program, beginning on April 1 they will be penalized an increase of two-percentage points over the pre-amnesty interest rate. Which basically means that the taxpayer, who did not take advantage of the program, will be paying four percent points higher in interest than those who did take part in the amnesty. Also, those who did not take advantage of the program will no longer be eligible for a waiver of penalty and they could have criminal or civil legal actions taken against them relating to assessments, unpaid tax and non-filed returns that were eligible for Tax Amnesty.

At a time when severe budget problems are being faced, the Tax Amnesty program is expected to raise $175 million for the state in delinquent and disputed taxes.

"It is win-win scenario for New York and New Yorkers," said New York City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., of the 31st District in Queens. "The State receives a vital infusion of revenue while New Yorkers get an incentive to do the right thing,"

Tax Amnesty application forms sent by mail must have a January 31 postmark and online applications must also be sent by midnight January 31. All payments must be received in full by March 15.

To get more information on what taxes are and are not applicable, answers to some of the most asked questions about the Tax Amnesty, to download forms and how find out how to file for Tax Amnesty go to http://www.nystaxamnesty.com/. You can also call 1-888-552-3453.

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