Time is running out for the millions of Pennsylvania eligible for a delinquent tax amnesty program being offered by the state.
The state legislature created the program as part of the 2016-17 budget with the expectation of collecting an additional $100 million in back taxes. That’s on top of the roughly $600 million in back taxes collected each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Under the program, the state will waive the 5 percent penalty and half of the interest.
The Department of Revenue estimates there is about $3.4 billion in back taxes owed to Pennsylvania.
“However, that includes unpaid taxes by businesses that are no longer in existence,” Department of Revenue Spokesperson Kevin Hensil said.
About 20 percent is owed by out-of-state businesses and individuals.
“We’ve mailed over 2.5 million letters and we’ve made 1.8 million phone calls to tax payers who we know are delinquent urging them to take part in the tax amnesty program,” Hensil said.
In the first 50 days of the program, 27,000 people and businesses responded.
Hensil said once the offer ends, the state will be back to trying to track down tax scofflaws and when they are found it will issue liens, bank attachments and wage garnishments.
The state law that created the program does not provide for an extension of the deadline. The last amnesty offer was made in 2010 and the one before that was in the mid-1990s, according to Hensil.
“That’s why we are strongly encouraging people to begin the process as soon as possible,” Hensil said. “It’s rare opportunity to get a do over.”
The program does not include unpaid 2015 and 2016 taxes.
Applications can be made on line or at 1-844-727-8283.