Louisiana’s delinquent taxpayers have until Nov. 22 to seek a reprieve from penalties in paying their back-owed taxes, with state officials needing strong participation in the amnesty program to keep the budget balanced.
Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield wouldn’t provide specific numbers about dollars already paid through the program, but he said his department has received thousands of applications and the trends suggest the state will hit the $200 million it expected to collect.
The big-ticket negotiations tend to go down to the final days of an amnesty program, as lawyers, accountants and taxpayers haggle over the larger debts owed to the state.
“Really this week and next week are the two big weeks,” Barfield said.
The amnesty program began in September and runs through Nov. 22.
People and businesses can apply to get caught up on their tax bills without any penalties and with only half the interest charges they would otherwise owe on the debt. The program covers most taxes administered by the Department of Revenue.
Lawmakers assumed the collection of $200 million from the amnesty period this year, and they plugged the money into the state’s $25.4 billion operating budget. Without that cash, they’d face a hefty hole in planned spending for health care services, because the dollars are used to draw down federal Medicaid matching dollars.
“Based on everything I’ve seen, I feel very good, very confident about the budget numbers for this year,” Barfield said.
Louisiana has offered similar programs five other times, the most recent in 2001 and 2009.