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Our Opinion: An interest in tax amnesty

Our Opinion: An interest in tax amnesty

March 3rd, 2011 in News

Responsible taxpayers aren't likely to be enamored by tax amnesty proposals.

As a matter of principle, neither are we. As a practical matter, amnesty brings in money that is owed but otherwise might not be collected.

Missouri lawmakers now are considering two tax amnesty proposals.

One, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, would waive all interest and penalties. It is estimated to bring in about $74 million in tax revenue owed to the state.

Another - sponsored by state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, and supported by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon - would waive only half the interest and would apply only to taxpayers not known to or contacted by the Department of Revenue. It is expected to collect about $31 million, or about half as much as Flanigan's proposal.

Which one, if any, do we support?

That's a tough call.

Our preference is for all taxpayers to meet their obligations in a timely fashion.

When that doesn't happen, collection efforts fall to the state Department of Revenue.

To its credit, the agency has enhanced technology and manpower devoted to collecting delinquent taxes.

We favor Kelly's proposal, even though it might produce less revenue.

Allowing the Revenue agency to follow through in collecting taxes from people it has already identified or contacted is sensible.

And requiring some penalty - half the interest - retains different treatment separating delinquent and timely taxpayers.