Pennsylvanians behind on their state tax payments have a 54-day window to settle up for reduced interest rates. In an effort to bring in at least 190 million dollars to help balance the budget, the state is offering incentives to delinquent taxpayers: penalties will be waived, and interest will be halved between now and June 18th.
Governor Ed Rendell says in addition to dangling that carrot, the state is also leveling a threat:
"There will be a five percent penalty added for non-participation. That was part of the original act. So if you’re delinquent up there and you say, ‘what the heck? I’ve gotten away with it until now.’ Well, we’re coming for you anyway, and you’ll pay five percent more because you don’t participate in this program".
Corporations owe 62 percent of those unpaid back taxes, and twenty percent of tax delinquents currently live out-of-state. Rendell points out the program isn’t rewarding people for avoiding their taxes.
"To the 97-percent of us who pay our taxes on time, I want to reiterate: these tax delinquents are still going to pay more than you did when you filed and paid your taxes on time. They’re still going to pay some interest. The interest is halved and the penalties are foregone, but they will still pay more than had they paid on time. "
Rendell says the state has begun a three-million dollar advertising campaign to publicize the tax amnesty window.
The Revenue Department is budgeting 16.8 million dollars for the total amnesty effort.