Capital loss deduction increase proposed
What to do with your tax refund

And tax amnesty for all

Well, maybe not all, but in addition to the state tax amnesties I blogged about a couple of weeks ago (Owe state taxes? Check out amnesties), a major city is reducing applicable penalties for its delinquent taxpayers who pay up by July 31.

Los Angeles tax officials say if you pay all the tax you owe, along with interest and any non-penalty fees, they will waive up to 40 percent in penalties.

You're eligible for this summertime tax offer is you've not reported or paid, or reported or paid some but not all, your due taxes in five areas:

  1. Business taxes

  2. Telephone, electricity and gas users taxes

  3. Commercial tenants occupancy taxes

  4. Transient occupancy taxes

  5. Parking occupancy taxes.

If you're a West Coast reader who can benefit from this Tinseltown tax amnesty, you'll find more details and application forms to download at the city's Office of Finance amnesty Web page.

Progress in the Pelican State: Louisiana officials also are working on a statewide tax amnesty.

This week the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the Louisiana Tax Delinquency Amnesty Act of 2009. It now awaits consideration by the full House.

The bill would would let individuals and businesses pay their overdue state tax bills without penalty and with reduced interest expense during a two-month period. The Department of Revenue would select the precise amnesty period during the 2010 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

would let individuals and businesses pay their tax debts to the state without penalty and with reduced interest expense during a two-month period to be named in the next fiscal year. The bill would let a private company administer the amnesty, but the sponsor of that provision says it would pay off because the private company should bring in more than enough to offset the fee and still provide Louisiana with much-needed revenue.

The Legislative Fiscal Office reported that as many as 353,000 taxpayers might be eligible to participate in the amnesty program, representing $450 million in past-due taxes and $250 million in interest.

Amnesty proponents say they expect around 30,000 of eligible taxpayers might participate. Even that smaller percentage should generate $150 million to $175 million. Under the current bill, about $73 million of the amnesty-collected money would go to the State Emergency Response Fund.

One provision, however, has raised some eyebrows. The amnesty collections would be administered not by state employees, but by a private company. Yikes! Shades of the now-defunct IRS private tax debt collection program.

At a hearing on the bill, Louisiana Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges told lawmakers that a private collection agency could bring in more than enough to offset its fee for administering the amnesty. A private firm, she said, would call and write more taxpayers more often than the state's Department of Revenue could manage. 

A private firm might charge as much as $5 million to administer the amnesty, Bridges testified, but two states that recently used firms, Indiana and Oklahoma, collected much more than they had hoped for.

If Louisianans agree to the proposal, let's hope their private collection goes more smoothly than the IRS.


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