The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) announced a two-month amnesty program designed to encourage the payment of delinquent taxes by individuals and businesses. The tax amnesty program was proposed by the Legislature and the language was included in the fiscal year 2015 budget signed by Governor Patrick in July. The amnesty program, which will run from September 1 through October 31, applies to certain tax liabilities billed on or before July 1, 2014.
In September approximately 300,000 qualifying taxpayers will receive a Tax Amnesty Notice from the Department of Revenue notifying them that they qualify for the tax amnesty program. Notices will provide taxpayers with their individual period balance, amount of unpaid penalty to be waived if the amnesty balance is paid in full by the due date and the amnesty amount due. Taxpayers who qualify for the amnesty program have already been billed by DOR for their outstanding tax liability. Under the program, DOR will waive all assessed, unpaid penalties for taxpayers who respond by making a full payment on all outstanding taxes and interest for any period listed on the notice by the October 31 deadline.
“Most people in Massachusetts do the right thing and pay their taxes to support critical government services,” said Commissioner Amy Pitter. “This amnesty program provides those who are delinquent on their taxes the opportunity to pay their share without additional penalties.”
The amnesty program covers a variety of individual and business tax types including: individual income tax, withholding tax, sales and use tax, meals tax, meals tax local option, personal use tax, cigarette individual excise tax and cigar/smoking tobacco tax.
Qualifying taxpayers can pay the amnesty balance through DOR’s efficient online services, WebFile for Business or WebFile for Income, depending on the tax type. Taxpayers can make electronic payments using a credit card or choose electronic withdrawal from a checking or savings account. A taxpayer may choose to pay by check but must enclose the payment coupon attached to the amnesty notice and postmark the mailing by October 31, 2014.
Taxpayers who have entered into a payment agreement with DOR prior to the start of the amnesty period will qualify to participate, as will taxpayers with an appeal pending. The amnesty will not be extended to taxpayers who have already paid outstanding taxes and interest and only owe penalties, taxpayers who have signed settlement agreements or taxpayers who are the subject of a tax-related criminal investigation or prosecution. Taxpayers who participate in this program will not be eligible for any future tax amnesty programs for 10 years.
Individuals and businesses with outstanding tax obligations not covered by the tax amnesty that may be facing economic hardship should communicate with DOR as soon as possible. “A payment agreement may be a very good option for taxpayers who are experiencing economic difficulties,” said Pitter. “Agreeing to a realistic monthly amount based on the taxpayer’s economic circumstances is beneficial to the taxpayer and DOR.”
DOR has set up a webpage with specific information about the amnesty including a Technical Information Release and Frequently Asked Questions at www.mass.gov/dor/amnesty. Taxpayers may also call DOR Customer Service at 617- 887-6367 or toll free in Massachusetts at 1-800-392- 6089.