State of Florida embraces debt forgiveness

By June 8, 2010 Businesses

Accidents happen.  More often, mistakes happen.  In some cases, you just didn’t know.  In other cases, maybe you did and need to come clean. Beginning soon, Florida embraces debt forgiveness, along with several states who are now offering a window of forgiveness.  From July 1 through September 1, Florida will be offering amnesty to help bring companies who owe back taxes, made mistakes on returns, failed to file, or committed outright fraud out of the dark corners and into the light.  The State of Florida is hoping to net more than $80 million in the process, not a bad return for offering forgiveness!

For many companies who owe back taxes, this is a great opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to go back through your sales tax records and get it right before you are audited.  Many commercial property lessors may not have been filing sales tax on their rental income and now have a chance to get that right as well.

If you are currently under an audit, inquiry, examination or civil investigation, this amnesty period might be the best deal you’ll get.  Even if an amount due has been assessed, you may still be able to get penalties removed and interest reduced by 25%.  If you contact the Florida Department of Revenue during this amnesty period, they will remove all penalties and you will only owe the original tax amount plus 50% of the accrued interest.  Florida will not be able to initiate a criminal investigation against you.

If you think you may owe a significant amount, you can still take advantage of this opportunity by setting up a payment plan.  You can pay as little as 12.5% up front and the rest on a monthly schedule.

Whats the catch?  This amnesty program has some limitations, for example it doesn’t cover Unemployment Taxes.  It also doesn’t cover local taxes such as personal property, tangible tax, or fees such as the storm-water fee.  It also isn’t for anyone who has received a bill from the Department of Revenue that they are fighting.  Once you sign the waiver for the amnesty program, you cannot protest the taxes that the Department has assessed or go back and make adjustments to get a refund.  That being said, if you owe back taxes due to error or neglect this may be your best chance to put this behind you.