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Tax amnesties underway in Florida, Nevada and New Mexico

As the second half of 2010 rolled in, it brought with it tax amnesty programs in several states.

You know the drill. If you owe taxes, your state revenue office will take what's due and forgive at least some of the penalties and interest.

The states also usually promise not to file potential criminal charges. Even better, you could get a firm cut-off date with regard to future look backs into your tax filing (or nonfiling) history.

Some of the pay-without-penalty programs are for overdue individual taxes. Other states are saying "we forgive you" just to businesses that owe. And sometimes every type of taxpayer is invited to the tax amnesty party.

Here's a look at the tax amnesties now underway in Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. And if you don't live there, no worries, more are planned in other state later this year.

Florida flag Florida: July 1 through Sept. 30
The Sunshine States says its taxpayers who participate in the amnesty will received a "significant" reduction in interest that's due (possibly as much as 50 percent) and won't face any penalty charges.

Florida has no income tax, but all other levies that are administered by the Florida Department of Revenue are eligible, except unemployment tax and Miami-Dade County Lake Belt Fees.

However, if you already have a payment agreement in place with Florida, the state demands you honor that. And the amnesty is not open to anyone already under criminal investigation, indictment, information, or prosecution regarding a Florida revenue law.

Details on the program, as well as how to apply online, are available at the Florida tax amnesty website.

Nevada flag Nevada: July 1 through Sept. 30
The Silver State will offer a one-time waiver of penalty and interest on taxes that due before the amnesty period started and that are paid in full by the time the program ends in September.

The key here is the payment in full requirement. If you can't do that, you need to work out a payment agreement with the state.

Speaking of such deals, Nevada's amnesty program also is off limits to any person or business who's already entered into a compromise or settlement agreement with state's Revenue Department or the Nevada Tax Commission.

The types of taxes included in the amnesty program include, in part, sales and use tax, modified business tax, centrally assessed property taxes, cigarette and other tobacco products tax, liquor tax and live entertainment (non-gaming) tax.

Amnesty payments can't be made online, but at the Nevada tax amnesty website you will find a full list of taxes that are eligible to be forgiven, as well as an amnesty application form.

New Mexico flag New Mexico: June 7 through Sept. 30
The Land of Enchantment kicked off its program a bit earlier, but the basics are the same. In the first month of operation, more than 2,000 New Mexicans have looked into their tax amnesty options.

New Mexico residents can disclose unreported and unassessed taxes due without incurring penalties. In addition, the Taxation and Revenue Department will not charge any interest as long as you pay your tax liability in full within 180 calendar days of assessment.

Most state taxes and fees administered by the state's tax office are eligible. They include, but are not limited to, personal income, gross receipts, withholding, liquor excise, corporate income, workers compensation, oil and gas production, weight distance, tobacco products and compensating tax. You can call 1-888-NM-TAX-RX if you have a question about whether a fee is included in amnesty.

You also can find much more about the program, including how to apply, at the special New Mexico tax amnesty website.

A popular money maker: Almost every state and many cities, as indicated by the Federation of Tax Administrators research, has at one time or another turned to tax amnesty to collect unpaid amounts.

A couple of states also have (or almost have) amnesties planned for later this year.

Maine has a limited amnesty scheduled for this fall. More on that as the dates near.

And Illinois lawmakers late last month sent that state's governor a tax amnesty measure that's awaiting his signature. If it becomes law, that program also will be in the fall (and details on it to come later, too, if enacted).

Most recently, Pennsylvania's tax amnesty -- it's creepy Orwellian 1984 television ad notwithstanding -- was declared a great success.

Keystone State officials had hoped to rake in $190 million in unpaid taxes during the amnesty. It ended up collecting $261 million during the its 54-day tax-forgiveness period that ended last month.

That's an amount that Forbes is going to have to factor into its slide slow of the 10 States With The Biggest Amnesty Hauls. The magazine's online feature was put together before Pennsylvania's amnesty was so successful, but it's still fun to see how much other states racked in with amnesty programs over the years.

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