Indiana collects $100 million from tax-amnesty program

Indiana's tax-amnesty program has collected enough money to pay for the new Regional Cities grant program spearheaded by Gov. Mike Pence, state officials announced Wednesday.

Individuals and businesses have paid more than $100 million to satisfy overdue state tax liabilities and have reached agreements for about $22 million in additional payments by next summer, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue.

Those figures announced Wednesday put collections beyond the $90 million mark that officials had set—mostly to fund the Regional Cities grant program encouraging groups of cities and counties to cooperate on projects aimed at attracting new businesses and residents.

Legislators this spring approved the two-month amnesty period that ended Nov. 16, allowing the payment of overdue state tax liabilities dating from before 2013 without penalties, interest and collection fees.

"We're thrilled so many taxpayers chose to take advantage of this opportunity to catch up on past-due taxes and move forward in good standing with the department," state revenue Commissioner Andrew Kossack said in a written statement.

The tax amnesty program was being counted on to provide $84 million for the Regional Cities grants and $6 million to support Amtrak's Hoosier State line between Indianapolis and Chicago. Money collected beyond the $90 million mark will go into the state's general fund.

Officials from seven regional groups have presented development proposals to an Indiana Economic Development Corp. committee, which is expected to vote Dec. 15 on recommendations for a pair of $42 million grants.

The Department of Revenue had estimated $500 million in tax debts from about 260,000 corporations, small businesses and individuals were eligible for the amnesty program.

It was Indiana's second tax-amnesty period, following one in 2005 under former Gov. Mitch Daniels, when which the state collected $244 million of some $1.3 billion in unpaid taxes. Taxpayers who participated in the 2005 program weren't eligible to participate this time.

Some Democratic legislators said they didn't believe the amnesty program was fair to taxpayers who have followed the law, pointing out that Daniels, a Republican, promoted the 2005 program as a one-time grace period.

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