More than 700 people applied for Rhode Island’s new tax-amnesty program during its first three weeks, lured by the promise that those who agree to pay up won’t face most of the harsh penalties that typically await tax delinquents.
“Our tax-amnesty program is proving to be very popular,” Rhode Island Tax Administrator David M. Sullivan said in a news release last week. It’s also been a boon to a state sorely in need of revenue, having generated more than $2.7 million in payments so far, according to state tax officials.
Those considering applying shouldn’t wait, warn tax officials. The 75-day tax-amnesty program that began Sept. 2 will end Nov. 15.
In exchange for payment of back taxes, the state in most cases will waive penalties; reduce interest by 25 percent; agree not to pursue civil or criminal penalties and won’t block attempts by applicants to renew a driver’s license, professional license, registration, or sales tax permit.
The program is open to all taxpayers who are delinquent on any state taxes, including personal income tax, sales and use tax, corporate income tax and unemployment insurance tax. It was included as part of the fiscal 2013 state budget approved by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee.
For small businesses struggling to make ends meet, the program could provide much-needed relief. For the state it could mean an additional $10.9 million, according to the estimate in the fiscal 2013 state budget.
“We’ve just been through one of the most punishing recessions since the Great Depression,” Chafee said in announcing the program in August. “The recession was felt across our country and across the world; Rhode Island was not immune. Some businesses and individuals fell behind on their taxes – including their Rhode Island state taxes. For them, and for others who are delinquent on their state taxes, this is a perfect time to pay what they owe and get a fresh start.”