Friday, April 27, 2001

House GOP proposes tax amnesty

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — House Republicans looking for money to balance the upcoming two-year budget are proposing a tax amnesty that they say would raise about $22 million.

        The amnesty would allow delinquent taxpayers — mainly businesses — to come forward without fear of penalty. They still would have to pay interest on the taxes they owe.

        The amnesty covers income, sales and use, corporate franchise and public-utility excise taxes.

        The one-time offer is open only to delinquent taxpayers the state hasn't identified, said Ohio Tax Commissioner Thomas Zaino.

        The state always is on the lookout for such taxpayers. “You weigh the risk of getting found and owing the penalty,” Mr. Zaino said of those who don't take advantage of the amnesty.

        He said the amnesty could provide a one-time source of money estimated at $17 million next year and $5 million in 2003, in addition to being a source of new, continuing revenue.

        “Now you've got new taxpayers on our system who will be complying into the future. ... It's a low-cost way of getting these people on board,” Mr. Zaino said.

        Senate President Richard Finan, an Evendale Republican, said he objects to allowing the amnesty for people who haven't paid their personal income taxes. He said it's a slap at citizens who follow the law and invites similar programs for other taxes.

        “You are saying to those of us who pay our taxes on time, "Tough, buddy,'” Mr. Finan said.


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