The Louisiana Department of Revenue announced Thursday that the state’s 2013 state tax amnesty program received more than 52,000 applications with payments totaling more than $435 million. That's signicantly more than the $200 million anticipated for health care expenses in the state's operating budget, which means lawmakers will have more than $150 million for certain uses after other fees are accounted for. Use of these monies is supposed to be limited to state savings and specific expenditures like debt reduction because the funds are considered non-recurring, but that hasn't always been the case.
Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said the state has received the majority of qualified applications and believes the numbers will hold once all of them are processed.
The program, created by legislation sponsored by Lafayette state Rep. Joel Robideaux, gave eligible taxpayers the chance to bring their accounts up to date by paying all taxes due in exchange for the state waiving all penalties and 50 percent of the interest. The program was in effect from Sept. 23 through Nov. 22. Taxpayers submitted applications by mail, online or at LDR customer service centers throughout the state.
Of the $435 million collected, approximately $369 million came from accounts under audit and litigation, which generally are contested matters involving businesses, and $66 million came from delinquent tax collections generally involving individuals. Amnesty collections include $67 million paid using transferable tax credits.
LDR estimates the cost of administering the amnesty program, including its share of outside legal fees, is approximately $14 million. And, as provided under the amnesty statute, LDR will retain about $64 million to replace penalties and fees waived under the program.