UPDATED Louisiana Tax Amnesty of 2013
UPDATE: LDR announced the 2013 Fresh Start Louisiana Tax Amnesty application period: September 23, 2013 through November 22, 2013. Because the amnesty generosity is contingent upon a lump sum cash payment by the taxpayer, preparations should be made early. Applications are to be mailed directly to qualifying taxpayers, however it may also be found at the LDR website with more information.
Governor Jindal has just signed Act 421 into law which establishes a tax amnesty program designed to bring in dollars to the state coffers. Taxpayers will be enticed to turnover unpaid taxes in exchange for a forgiveness of half of the interest owed and a waiver of any penalties that might otherwise be due. The amnesty is only available to those taxpayers able to make the lump payment of the remaining amounts due. This is obviously a barrier to participation by financially strapped taxpayers - the very person in need of amnesty the most.
The filing period for amnesty is not yet set, but will be held for two months before year-end. For those taxpayers unable to find the funding to participate in 2013's amnesty, there will be a one month application period to obtain a 15% penalty waiver in 2014 and a like period to obtain a 10% penalty waiver in 2015.
A few things to note are:
- Motor fuel taxes are excluded,
- To qualify for amnesty the taxes must have been due before January 1, 2013,
- Taxes under examination and in litigation may qualify,
- If the tax is under examination, the taxpayer must agree to the Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary's interpretation of law for the next three years of tax periods involving the same tax issue,
- If the tax is in litigation, the taxpayer must pay the Collector's attorney's fees, and
- Amnesty will not be granted to taxpayers being investigated or prosecuted for tax evasion or fraud or those having filed a false or fraudulent return.
Amnesty is not good tax policy as it may encourage some taxpayers to put off paying taxes in the hope that another amnesty program will be enacted sooner or later. (Louisiana's last amnesty program was in 2009.) It does, however, offer relief to taxpayers who, for whatever reason, were unable to pay their taxes when originally owed.