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FRANKFORT – Department of Revenue officials expect the busiest week yet for Kentucky’s tax amnesty program, which is nearing the end of a 61-day window for delinquent taxpayers to come forward.
Nov. 30 is the last day to apply for amnesty.
For those who take advantage of amnesty, they will likely save 30 percent or more. For those who don’t, tougher penalties and fees, plus a higher interest rate will be applied along with more aggressive collection efforts.
To provide additional taxpayer assistance during the final week of amnesty, the Kentucky Department of Revenue is extending operating hours at its 10 field offices around the state.
Each office will be open regular hours plus extended hours as noted (all times local):
• Monday, Nov. 26 through Thursday, Nov. 29: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 30: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or until last taxpayer in line leaves)
“The old saying that ‘time is money’ is definitely true in this case, because those who don’t take advantage of Tax Amnesty this week will be paying more later,” said Lori Flanery, secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet. Since amnesty began Oct. 1, taxpayers have sent thousands of payments for millions of dollars. Officials have fielded more than 25,000 phone calls, and the amnesty website has had page views from more than 52,000 unique visitors, with a significant number of payments being made online. Payments have come into the Department of Revenue from every county in Kentucky and from all states except Vermont and Montana.
“Overall the response has been strong,” Secretary Flanery said, “but this week will trump all others in the amount of activity.”
Accountants across the state are also busy helping clients take advantage of tax amnesty, said Bill Meyer, president of the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants and a partner at Strothman and Company, an accounting firm in Louisville.
“Anyone who uses an accountant is typically caught up on taxes, but there are definitely accountants across the state who will be burning the midnight oil this week to help some of their clients take advantage of the savings that come with the amnesty program,” Meyer said.
Tougher Penalties Take Effect at End of Amnesty
Taxpayers should note what happens if they fail to take advantage of tax amnesty. The amnesty legislation calls for all penalties and fees to be reinstated once amnesty is over, which may include:
• 25 percent cost-of-collection fee;
• 25 percent assessment fee;
• 50 percent fee for not filing a tax return;
• 25 percent fee on liabilities discovered through an audit; and
• all interest owed will be reinstated, plus another 2 percent added to the interest rate.
On average, taxpayers save about 30 percent on their total tax bill under amnesty. After amnesty, their liability will substantially increase, even tripling in some cases.
For taxpayers who take advantage of amnesty but need payment flexibility, the Department of Revenue offers payment plans for those who can prove hardships. Under this plan, 25 percent of the amount owed must be paid with the request, with the balance paid in full by May 31, 2013. Penalties and fees are still waived, but the interest is not reduced.
Once a taxpayer takes advantage of amnesty, the person or business must continue to make all tax payments for the next three years. Failure to do so will cause all fees, penalties and interest to be reinstated.
Kentucky last conducted an amnesty in 2002, which netted the state more than $40 million. A final number for the current program won’t be known until this summer because hardship payments are not due until the end of May.
Tax Amnesty has been widely advertised across the Commonwealth, in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television and on websites. Department of Revenue officials have made presentations to numerous groups and public events.