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1998 Tax Amnesty Program Shatters Records

Secretary Kennedy Says A Record 5,127 Individual Taxpayers Helped By Program

January 11, 1999

BATON ROUGE - A record-shattering 5,127 individual taxpayers were given a second chance on their state taxes bringing in more than $500,000 for the state under the recently completed Taxpayer Amnesty Program, according to figures announced today by Secretary of Revenue John Kennedy.

According to current numbers compiled by the Department, 5,127 applications were accepted totaling $524,610.14 in collections during the three-month Tax Amnesty period of October 1, 1998 to December 31, 1998. The average amount collected per applicant was $102.32. These numbers, however, are unaudited and subject to change as more applications are processed and analyzed over the next 6-8 weeks.

"The huge success of the Tax Amnesty program, in terms of the number of people helped as well as in the amount of money collected, is a major accomplishment for the Department," says Secretary Kennedy. "Under the direction and leadership of Governor Mike Foster, the Louisiana Department of Revenue is working hard to make paying taxes as fair, easy, and convenient as possible. The success of the Tax Amnesty Program is further proof of that effort."

Tax Amnesty allowed individuals or small businesses who had not already been contacted by the Department of Revenue about their delinquency to pay the back taxes owed, and only one-half of the interest accrued, without penalty or fear of civil or criminal prosecution by the Department. In addition, taxpayers who owed $500 or less in taxes per tax period prior to July 1, 1997 and who had been contacted by the Department for taxes due were also eligible for Tax Amnesty. All types of taxes were eligible, including individual income, sales, and inheritance taxes.

Kennedy says that comparisons with previous Tax Amnesty programs in 1985 and 1987 should be viewed in perspective. While the 1985 program generated $1.2 million dollars, it only helped 382 taxpayers. Similarly, in the 1987 program where $279,000 was collected only 77 people were helped. "The biggest difference between the 1998 program and previous programs is that this time, large corporate taxpayers were excluded and the program was geared more to small taxpayers who got behind in their taxes for reasons beyond their control," says Secretary Kennedy. "Tax Amnesty recognized that nobody''s perfect. Its purpose was to give these taxpayers a second chance - and I''m proud to say that more than 5,000 of them accepted that second chance."