Tax amnesty bill passes House

An upcoming tax amnesty program to let people and businesses pay back-owed taxes with reduced penalties would be more generous than currently planned, under a measure that received Louisiana House support Monday evening in a 92-1 vote.

House Bill 663 by state Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, is designed to help the state bring in $100 million in the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year, money that already is included for spending in next year’s budget.

Last year, lawmakers created a three-phase tax amnesty program, with less generous incentives as each year passed. The second phase of the program, planned for late 2014, would waive 15 percent of penalties and no interest for people paying their delinquent taxes. Robideaux’s bill would change that to waive 67 percent of penalties and 33 percent of interest.

Tax credits, which were used to pay off some back-owed business taxes in the first phase of the program, would be prohibited as payment in the next phases.

The House added language proposed by state Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, that would ban tax amnesty programs after the three-phase period ends in 2015, to address concerns that some taxpayers won’t pay their taxes on time, awaiting the next amnesty.

Despite the addition, Broadwater still voted against the bill, which heads next to the Senate for debate.