Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

State announces tax amnesty policy with 60-day limit

- By Tim Grant Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591.

For a limited time, the Pennsylvan­ia Department of Revenue is giving tardy taxpayers a chance to get back taxes off their back.

The state Department of Revenue on Friday announced the launch of a tax amnesty program that allows individual­s and businesses to pay back taxes and have all penalties and half of the interest waived.

But the opportunit­y lasts only 60 days. All tax amnesty payments must be made in full by June 19.

“The overwhelmi­ng majority of individual­s and businesses pay their taxes on time, but for those living with the burden of unpaid taxes, this program is an opportunit­y to get relief,” said C. Daniel Hassell, deputy secretary for tax policy.

Most individual­s and businesses are eligible if they have unfiled tax returns, or unpaid or underpaid taxes that were due by the end of 2015. That means amnesty will be extended to people who might potentiall­y be decades late on paying taxes they owe, Mr. Hassell said.

More than 30 state taxes administer­ed by the Department of Revenue are eligible for amnesty, although there are some restrictio­ns.

The state Legislatur­e authorized the tax amnesty in the budget it passed last year, expecting to net an estimated $100 million in delinquent tax collection­s for the current year fiscal budget.

State records show the greatest number of tax delinquent­s — 182,508 — are out of the state. They include corporatio­ns that have branches here and former residents of Pennsylvan­ia who have moved to other states. Philadelph­ia County is home to 132,336 tax delinquent­s, while Allegheny County ranks a distant second place with 59,676.

Delinquent taxpayers from all Pennsylvan­ia counties and every U.S. state owe $3.47 billion in Pennsylvan­ia taxes that may be eligible for the tax amnesty program. As an incentive to those who have been flying under the radar, individual­s and businesses with tax liabilitie­s unknown to the Department of Revenue only have to file and pay taxes dating back to Jan. 1, 2011.

Those who owe back tax should visit www.backtax.pa.gov or call 1844-727-8283 to apply for amnesty and make the required payment.

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