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Illinois' program now nation's most
Total payments reach $532 million
[JAN. 6, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov.
Rod Blagojevich announced updated figures Dec. 31 that show Illinois
taxpayers paid $532 million in late, accelerated and new tax debts
during the recently completed state tax amnesty program, making it
the most successful program of its kind in the country.
Preliminary figures estimated
the state had taken in $504 million from 70,000 taxpayers during the
Oct. 1 to Nov. 17 amnesty period, but Illinois Department of Revenue
has reported an additional $28 million from another 11,000
taxpayers. The previous record for money collected through a tax
amnesty program had been held by the state of New York, which took
in $520 million earlier this year.
"Citizens with tax debts
hanging over their heads flocked to tax amnesty," the governor said.
"We gave taxpayers the chance to clear these debts and they
responded. Besides clearing up some old debts due to the state, the
money will help us deal with a historic budget deficit."
Of the total amount generated
by the amnesty, $185 million can be
used for state budget purposes, which is $145 million more than the
$40 million the Governor's Office of Budget and Management had
estimated when the fiscal 2004 budget was passed in May. Another $92
million will go to Illinois local governments, and the rest will go
to the Refund Fund or represents money that the state would have
received later in this fiscal year.
Most of the tax amnesty
participation came from individuals, who accounted for 90 percent of
payments and 5 percent of dollars collected, according to the
Illinois Department of Revenue. The average individual income tax
payment was $400.
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"We're extremely pleased with
the success of the program," said Illinois Department of Revenue
Director Brian Hamer. "We notified more than 200,000 taxpayers to
make them aware, worked with civic and business groups to get the
word out, and ended up generating significant monies for
hard-pressed state and local governments."
Under tax amnesty, Illinois
taxpayers who paid back taxes between Oct. 1 and Nov. 17 did not
have to pay penalty and interest charges. For those who chose not to
use amnesty, penalties and interest doubled beginning Nov. 18.
One of the surprises of the tax
amnesty program was $153 million in payments from business taxpayers
under federal audit who do not yet owe the state anything but chose
to pay during the amnesty period to protect themselves from possible
future interest charges.
amnesty was structured to bring money into the state coffers today
that would not have been received until future years. Besides the
cash infusion, tax amnesty broadened the tax base and increased
efficiency. Non-filers who came forward will continue to pay in
future years, and resources the department would have used to
collect money are available for other tax enforcement activities.
[News release from the