Above the Line

Live in NV? Haven’t filed in a while? Here’s your chance….

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There’s only a handful of ways to put money in the state’s coffers. One is to raise taxes, an unpopular option, which could backfire. Another is to increase enforcement via audits, equally unpopular. A third is an amnesty, which avoids the unpleasantness of the other two options, and allows non-filers to get an albatross off their necks and avoid penalties and interest to boot. Even better, there may be no requirement to file timely afterward (though it’s probably a good idea).

Nevada’s the latest state to join the amnesty train. New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida and New Mexico also have had or are having programs, and twelve states had amnesties in 2009. Several cities (including Oakland and Los Angeles in 2009, and Philly in 2010) have also had amnesties. Ironically, Illinois and California – two very strapped states – have not had amnesties recently, though one for 2010 was introduced in Illinois late last year, but never went anywhere.

Is there a downside? Well, one writer posits that amnesties, if used too often, can promote noncompliance, though most states don’t do them frequently enough to make that a good strategy. Moreover, if you’ve dropped off the radar, you’ll suddenly find yourself back on it, so you should pay up for all outstanding years even if not covered by the amnesty, because you could soon find yourself getting a rather large bill.


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