Five Questions With: David M. Sullivan

Rhode Island Tax Administrator David M. Sullivan talks about the state’s tax amnesty program. More

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Five Questions With: David M. Sullivan

"If you pay what you owe, we will waive all penalties related to that tax debt, and cut the interest by 25 percent. "
Posted 8/28/12

Rhode Island is offering a state tax amnesty – from Sept. 2, 2012, through Nov. 15, 2012. If you pay what you owe, the state will waive penalties, reduce the interest rate, and promise not to pursue you for civil penalties or criminal charges.

Rhode Island Tax Administrator David M. Sullivan oversees the state Division of Taxation, which is running the amnesty. He discussed how the program will work and how it can help taxpayers.

PBN: Rhode Island will offer a state tax amnesty, beginning in another week or so. The state has not done so since 2006. Why now?

SULLIVAN: We’ve just been through one of the most punishing recessions in this country since the Great Depression. Many people ran into financial trouble, and some fell behind on their taxes. So the Governor and General Assembly felt this was a good time to give people and businesses a chance to clear the slate by paying what they owe – and getting a fresh start as a result.

PBN: What is amnesty, and to whom will it apply?

SULLIVAN: If you pay what you owe, we will waive all penalties related to that tax debt, and cut the interest by 25 percent. We will agree not to seek civil or criminal prosecution related to those taxes. Your professional license, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, or sales tax permit won’t be blocked due to those taxes. And you’ll have peace of mind.

Just about any person, business, or other entity that is delinquent on Rhode Island state taxes is eligible for amnesty. So it could be an individual, a married couple, a business, or a nonprofit, for example. It could be a resident or nonresident person, business, or other entity.

PBN: What types of taxes are we talking about?

SULLIVAN: The amnesty is open to all sorts of state taxes – so you may qualify if you are delinquent on personal income tax, sales and use tax, corporate income tax, employer withholding tax, estate tax, or other such state taxes.

PBN: What must I do to take advantage, and what conditions must be satisfied?

SULLIVAN: All you have to do is complete the special one-page amnesty application – and submit it to the Tax Division, along with your past-due tax returns and your payment (a bank check or money order).

Most people, businesses, and entities that are delinquent on state tax will be eligible for amnesty. However, we will not grant amnesty to taxpayers who are under any criminal investigation or who are a party to any civil or criminal proceeding, pending in any court of the United States or of the State of Rhode Island, for fraud in relation to any state tax.

PBN: How long will amnesty last? Is your office available for assistance?

SULLIVAN: Our tax amnesty program runs for 75 days, from Sept. 2, 2012, through Nov. 15, 2012. You can apply for amnesty at any time during that period. To obtain details, you may check our special tax amnesty website:

Or call our tax amnesty hotline, at (401) 574-8650, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. business days. Or e-mail us:

We’ve been meeting with tax preparers about the amnesty, and taking other steps to spread the word: This is a great time to step forward and pay what you owe. In exchange, we’ll waive the penalties, cut the interest you owe, and offer other benefits. For the taxpayer, it’s a very good deal.

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