Indiana on track to meet tax-amnesty collection goal

Indiana's second tax amnesty period in the past decade is on track to at least meet a $90 million tax-collection goal that would largely be funneled to a program spearheaded by Gov. Mike Pence that's aimed at spurring economic development partnerships between counties and cities.

Indiana Department of Revenue spokeswoman Amanda Stanley said Friday that an exact total of the amount collected to date under the two-month amnesty program isn't available yet because those eligible can pay their outstanding taxes several ways.

But, as of Thursday, the amnesty had raked in $27.5 million in cash payments. Stanley said that amount was collected 11 days ahead the agency's goal for reaching that benchmark.

"It's a moving target from one moment to the next the way the money is coming in through different channels and situations, but we're right on track where we expected to be," she said.

The tax amnesty that began Sept. 15 and ends Nov. 16 is giving delinquent taxpayers a chance to pay off tax debt dating from before 2013 without the penalties, interest and collection fees that have accumulated on that debt.

Stanley said so far there's been a "good mix" of taxpayers making full payments and those who have set up payment plans that give them until June 15, 2016, to pay their debt. But she said there are also legal settlements in the works involving individuals and businesses.

About 260,000 corporations, small businesses and individuals who owe the state more than $500 million are eligible for the amnesty program. A student loan management firm Navient Corp., is helping the state collect some of that outstanding tax debt.

Any money collected beyond the $90 million goal will go to Indiana's general fund.

Indiana's last tax amnesty was in 2005, when the state collected $244 million of about $1.3 billion in unpaid taxes.

This year's tax amnesty is the sole funding for the state's new $84 million Regional Cities program. Another $6 million generated by the amnesty will support Amtrak's Hoosier State line that runs between Indianapolis and Chicago.

The Regional Cities program — a top legislative priority of Pence that state lawmakers approved in April — will award grants to regional groups for infrastructure or amenity projects aimed at attracting businesses and people to those areas.

A committee that's part of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is tentatively scheduled to meet Dec. 15 to decide which two of seven proposals will each receive $42 million grants, said agency spokeswoman Rebecca Helmke.

Under the program, the state money would be used to obtain matching federal funds and be supplemented by public and private local revenues.

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