Illinois Tax Amnesty Program: Visionary

The Illinois tax amnesty program, which ended in November brought the State of Illinois more than $717 million in unpaid taxes Gov. Pat Quinn’s office announced. The Illinois tax amnesty program gave Illinois taxpayers a welcome break by not charging any interest or penalties for previously unpaid taxes as long as you paid them by November 2010.

The state had expected the five-week program to generate only $250 million for state coffers, but a waiver of interest and penalties attracted payments from 78,189 business and individual taxpayers.

“We are pleased with this program’s end result – Illinois’ tax amnesty exceeded expectations,” said Illinois Revenue Director Brian Hamer. “The program was straightforward and simple, and it generated hundreds of millions of dollars to help the state meet its obligations to vendors, taxpayers, and providers of essential services.”

Approximately $314 million of the state of Illinois tax collections will go to the state’s general fund, what’s left of the $717 million in taxes collected will work it’s way to local governments and used to pay state income tax refunds, according to statements.

Illinois, which just increased individual income tax by 66% and corporate income tax rates by 46% to help with a $15 billion budget deficit. A bill pending before the state Senate would authorize the sale of $8.75 billion of general obligation bonds to pay overdue bills, corporate income tax refunds and other operating expenses.

Illinois continues to experience slower revenues and rising deficits from years of overspending and now the depression. But in the midst of all this Illinois did something visionary. Illinois became government creating good policy. The Illinois tax amnesty program was a great success and I hope to see more of the same from Illinois.

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