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Fresh Start Tax Amnesty 2012

June 7, 2012

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CPA Broadcast Services: Tax Amnesty 2012

INTRO by Leticia Torres:
Welcome to this Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts podcast, produced by the Communications Division. I’m Leticia Torres.
Our topic today is the Fresh Start Texas Taxpayer Amnesty Program.
Our interview is with R.J DeSilva, spokesman for the Comptroller’s office.
Let’s start by discussing the benefits of participating in the amnesty program. R.J. what are they?

R.J DeSilva:
Businesses can “wipe the slate clean” by filing past due reports or amending reports that underreported taxes, without paying penalty or interest. You can also register for taxes that should have been reported, and catch up on those reports that should have been filed, again without paying penalty or interest.

Leticia:
Will filing under the amnesty program increase the chances of an audit later?

R.J DeSilva:
No, but we do reserve the right to audit the information you provide for amnesty.

Leticia:
What if I fail to take advantage of the taxpayer amnesty?

R.J DeSilva:
If you fail to pay the taxes or fees you owe during the amnesty period, you will be responsible for all taxes, fees, penalties and interest owed. A five percent penalty accrues the day after the due date, and a second five percent penalty accrues on the 31st day after the due date. There’s an additional 50 percent penalty can be assessed in cases of fraud, and a late filer penalty can also apply for reports due on or after Oct. 1, 2011. Interest accrues on the 61st day after the due date and continues until the tax or fee is paid.

Leticia:
R.J., is there a limit to the total amount of penalty and interest that can be waived?

R.J DeSilva:
No, but penalty and interest will be waived only on the actual tax paid during the amnesty.

Leticia:
What taxes are eligible for the taxpayer amnesty?

R.J DeSilva:
All state and local taxes and fees administered by the Comptroller's office are eligible, with the exception of Public Utility Commission gross receipts assessments. Sports and community venue tax and property taxes are not administered by the Comptroller so they are not eligible.

Leticia:
Are city, county, metropolitan transit authority and other local sales taxes included in the taxpayer amnesty?

R.J DeSilva:
Yes, the amnesty applies to all local-option taxes that administered by the Comptroller's office.

Leticia:
What about property tax? Does the amnesty apply to property tax?

R.J DeSilva:
No. Property tax is not part of the amnesty because it is a local tax administered by Texas counties, cities, school districts and special districts, not by the Comptroller's office.

Leticia:
Does the amnesty apply to International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) taxes?

R.J DeSilva:
Yes, but it only covers taxes due to Texas, as shown on the IFTA tax report supplement (form #56-102). It does not apply to taxes due to other states, Mexican states or Canadian provinces.

Leticia:
Who is eligible to participate in the amnesty program?

R.J DeSilva:
Eligible taxpayers include those who:

  • Did not file a required return or report originally due before April 1, 2012; or
  • Underreported taxes or fees due, for reasons such as erroneously claiming credits or deductions.

The amnesty does not apply to underpaid tax returns (tax that was reported but not paid) or to filing periods under audit or examination, or where the Comptroller has given notice of an audit or examination.

Leticia:
What about a taxpayer who has signed a settlement agreement or voluntary disclosure agreement? Can they participate in the amnesty program?

R.J DeSilva:
No. A taxpayer who has signed an agreement before the beginning of the amnesty period is not eligible.

Leticia:
How do I apply for the amnesty program?

R.J DeSilva:

  • You can file an original report by submitting a paper return, and write "Amnesty" across the top of the return and on the check or money order.
  • If you’re amending a report, submit the corrected figures on a paper return, and write "Amnesty" across the top of the return and on the check or money order.
  • If you’re submitting a tax application and registering for the first time, write "Amnesty" on the application, as well as the return and check or money order.

Leticia:
Can I file an amnesty return and pay electronically?

R.J DeSilva:
No. All amnesty reports and payments must be submitted as a paper return to facilitate the waiver of penalty and interest. Even if you are otherwise required to file and pay electronically, you will not be penalized for filing a paper return for the amnesty.

Leticia:
What if I underreported on their original return? Do I have to file an amended return?

R.J DeSilva:
Yes you do.

Leticia:
Are there any business registration requirements that must be fulfilled prior to participating in this amnesty program?

R.J DeSilva:
If your business is closed or if the tax you are reporting is for a one-time event, no business registration is required. If you are doing active business in Texas, you must complete and submit the applicable tax application or questionnaire.

Leticia:
How do I make an amnesty payment?

R.J DeSilva:
Payments should be marked "Amnesty" and should include your Texas taxpayer number on the check or money order. If you do not have a permit or are not registered to collect Texas taxes and fees, or do not have an account with us, write your Federal Employer Identification number or Social Security number on the check or money order instead.

Leticia:
What about payment installment plans? Are they available?

R.J DeSilva:
No. To be eligible for the amnesty, taxpayers must pay all taxes or fees due in full for the amnesty returns that are filed.

Leticia:
Where should payments be sent?

R.J DeSilva:
Checks and money orders should be made payable to the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and mailed to the following address:

Taxpayer Amnesty
Comptroller of Public Accounts
P.O. Box 13232
Austin, Texas 78711-3232

You can also visit the nearest Comptroller field office to make an amnesty payment. A list of field offices is available online at www.freshstart.texas.gov

Leticia:
What if I don’t know how much I owe? How do I find out that information?

R.J DeSilva:
If you do not know how much tax you owe, call 1-800-252-1390 or visit the nearest local field office.

Leticia:
What are the eligible tax periods included in the amnesty program?

R.J DeSilva:
The program applies to all tax periods for which the original tax return was due prior to April 1, 2012.

Leticia:
What happens if I pay with a check that is not honored by the bank due to insufficient funds or for any other reason?

R.J DeSilva:
If you pay your tax with a check that the bank does not honor, you risk having the amnesty revoked. You must pay the tax in full as well as any applicable returned check fee during the amnesty period.
If you have additional questions, call 1-800-252-1390.

Leticia:
Thank you
That was R.J. DeSilva, spokesman for the Texas Comptroller’s office.
For those interested in additional details on the Fresh Start Texas Amnesty Program, please visit www.FreshStart.Texas.org. On behalf of the Texas Comptroller’s Office, I’m Leticia Torres.

CLOSE by Leticia Torres:
Media requesting an interview, please call the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Communications Division at area code (512) 463-4070. This podcast was brought to you by the Texas Comptroller’s office.

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