December is the start of the holiday giving season and tax collectors in New Hampshire and Louisiana are hoping for some long-delayed gifts.
Tax amnesty periods began Dec. 1 in those two states.
Actually, Louisiana's tax amnesty started on Nov. 16, but after just one day, the Department of Revenue suspended it until the start of December.
The Pelican State's postponement came after tax officials found a mistake in the information included in some of the amnesty invitation letters. Revenue officials decided it would be easier for everyone to hold off on the amnesty until corrected letters were mailed.
If you got in your unpaid taxes during that brief amnesty window last month, don't worry. The amounts will be applied to your account.
Other Louisiana taxpayers, both business and individual filers, who still owe unpaid taxes, however, now have until Dec. 31 to take care of their overdue bills.
The amnesty is open to tax balances due prior to this year. It covers all taxes administered and collected by the state except motor fuel taxes, inspection and supervision fees, prepaid cell phone sales tax, oil field restoration taxes (gas and oil), and penalties related to failure to submit certain information reports.
Even if you got a letter, Louisiana's amnesty is a voluntary program. If you decide to take advantage of it, you apply this month and pay or set up an installment agreement to pay all of the tax owed, along with 83 percent of the interest due, 67 percent of the associated penalties, and all applicable fees and costs listed on the amnesty application.
That means you save 17 percent of the interest and 33 percent of the penalties you otherwise would owe.
It's a good deal for the state, too. The Louisiana Department of Revenue is expecting to net $73 million in this month-long amnesty period.
You can get more information from that Department of Revenue's amnesty fact sheet, or call toll-free 1 (866) 782-9241 for more information about your tax account.
And if you're thinking you'll just take your chances until the next Louisiana tax amnesty, think again. After this December amnesty closes, the state won't offer another tax forgiveness period until at least 2025.
New Hampshire's tax amnesty also began Dec. 1, but it runs a bit longer, until Feb. 15, 2016.
The Granite State's tax forgiveness period applies to all taxes administered and collected by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration.
It's the first New Hampshire general tax amnesty in more than a decade. The last one in 2001 brought in $14.9 million. This time, state officials are hoping to collect $16 million.
The offer applies to all state taxes, including a wide variety of business taxes, including the business enterprise tax and business profits tax. It also applies to the interest and dividends tax, which falls mostly on wealthy individuals.
By paying the New Hampshire tax collector during the 2½-month amnesty, individual and business taxpayers will get break on all penalties and half the interest due on their outstanding tax balances.
Taking advantage of New Hampshire's tax amnesty is simple. Just file any required outstanding tax returns and pay all unpaid taxes and 50 percent of the interest during the tax amnesty period. No special form or application is required.
Taxpayers are responsible for calculating the correct tax and interest amounts. To help, the Department of Revenue Administration has created an online interest calculator.
Interested New Hampshire taxpayers can find out more in the state's amnesty information sheet. You also can check into the status of an existing tax liability by calling Central Tax Services at (603) 230-5920.
While it's always better, from an amount owed perspective, to pay your bill when it's due, if that didn't happen at least tax amnesties offer a chance for you to get your tax account taken care of with reduced penalty and interest charges.
So if you can swing it, tax-owing Louisiana and New Hampshire taxpayers, pay your overdue bills during these amnesties. It's the best deal you're going to get for a while.
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