Missouri House endorses tax amnesty period

The Missouri House gave initial approval Wednesday to a tax amnesty period for delinquent taxpayers in hopes of boosting state tax revenue.

Under the amnesty proposal, the state would waive interest and penalties for taxpayers who pay off their bills between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 of this year. Delinquent taxpayers would need to agree to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years. All the penalties and interest would be due immediately if a delinquent taxpayer violates state tax law within the eight-year period.

Supporters said the amnesty measure could bring in tens of millions of dollars. The legislation was endorsed 145-4 and needs a second round of approval before moving to the Senate.

Missouri lawmakers in recent years have considered tax amnesty legislation. One such proposal was on the agenda during a special legislative session this past fall that collapsed amid disagreement between House and Senate leaders over an economic development package.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in January released a proposed budget that included additional revenue expected to be collected from a tax amnesty period. The governor’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year starting July 1 presumes that state government will collect additional revenue from several sources.

Within the past decade, Missouri twice has offered a tax amnesty period for individuals or businesses with unpaid taxes. An amnesty program in the 2002 fiscal year brought in $74 million in tax revenue, while one the following budget year generated an additional $42 million.

The House legislation approved Wednesday includes several different elements. For example, it would require that before money is paid from Missouri’s legal expense fund to settle legal claims, the party receiving the money presents a statement from the Department of Revenue that they do not owe taxes. That requirement would not apply for payments of less than $10,000 for property damage.

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