Illinois Tax Amnesty
6:06 pm
Mon February 7, 2011

Tax amnesty program tops revenue estimates

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Luke Runyon also used in this report.

A plan to collect money from Illinois tax deadbeats produced more than expected.

Gov. Pat Quinn's office said Monday that offering delinquent taxpayers a chance to pay up without punishment brought in $314 million. It was originally expected to produce about $250 million.

Experts believe much of that overdue tax money would have been collected eventually. The amnesty program simply brought it in faster.

Department of Revenue spokesperson Sue Hofer says the state could've collected the millions in late taxes years from now.

"But now is when we need it. And that was the goal of the amnesty was to bring money in this year so we can pay our bills." - Sue Hofer

But that rapid infusion of tax dollars may have a dampening effect in the future. Soaking up all the late tax money at once may leave the state without that source of revenue in upcoming years.   Plus, the state's losing out on whatever late fees it would have collected.

In addition to the money for general state spending, the amnesty produced $403 million for local governments and state income tax refunds.

The Revenue Department says it also added more names to state tax records, making it easier to track people down for future payments.

After the amnesty ended, interest and penalties on tax debt doubled.