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Some taxpayers can get a break

It’s not too late to take advantage of the state’s first-ever tax amnesty program.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

It’s not too late to take advantage of the state’s first-ever tax amnesty program.

Amnesty, which offers reduced interest and no penalties to those who haven’t paid personal taxes, continues until Jan. 15, said John Meekins of the Ohio Tax Amnesty Program.

"It’s a break for people who owe, and we’re hoping to collect some more than what we have," Lawrence County auditor Ray Dutey said.

The program’s aimed at taxpayers who have never filed their local income taxes, sales taxes, personal property taxes, or others, for example. Some businesses and residents fail to pay those taxes, even though county officials try to send forms out to everyone who should, Dutey added.

Since the majority of revenue comes from people who have never filed, it’s hard to tell how much is lost in the county. But, state officials estimate the tax amnesty program will add $17 million to state coffers by the time the Jan. 15 deadline comes.

About 6,600 people have already paid in more than $10 million, they said.

Part of the income will benefit Lawrence County, and it also means many new taxpayers will be filing in the future, Dutey said.

"Tax amnesty benefits government, but it also benefits citizens, those who are behind on their taxes and those who pay their taxes regularly," Meekins said.

For those who take advantage of tax amnesty to get caught up, they will pay the taxes they owe; but they will only pay half the interest owed and no penalties, he said.

It helps those who owe back taxes and provides more money to local governments without raising those taxes, Meekins said.

The program should provide another $5 million annually across the state from newly-enrolled taxpayers, he added.

Those seeking amnesty need to apply now, at their local auditor’s office, before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Quick Facts:

– The Tax Amnesty program covers only some taxes, such as personal and school district income taxes, sales and use taxes, employer and school district withholding taxes, pass-through entity and corporate franchise taxes, and public utility excise taxes. Real estate taxes DO NOT qualify for the tax amnesty program.

– Personal property taxes, for such items as boats and RVs, are covered under the tax amnesty program.

– The taxes must have been owed on or before May 1, 2001.

– The program is for taxpayers whose liabilities are unknown to the Ohio Department of Taxation. If the taxpayer has received a bill, an assessment or been contacted for an audit, the taxpayer is not eligible for the program.

– Application forms for the Tax Amnesty program must be filled out, available at Dutey’s office on the second floor of the Lawrence County courthouse, 533-4310. Forms are also can be downloaded on the Internet from http://www.state.oh.us/tax/

– Completed applications and the tax and interest owed should be sent to: Ohio Department of Taxation, P.O. Box 2619, Columbus, Ohio, 43216-2619. Returns without an application may result in a denial of amnesty.

For more information, contact the state taxation department toll-free at 1-800-304-3211.