State Amnesty Plan Lets Delinquent Taxpayers Catch Up

Howard Weitzman and state officials are expected to announce a not-so-new, limited state tax amnesty program that forgives those who pay what they owe and promise to pay on time in the future.

But the key to the program — and what may well make it unique — is that you can’t participate in it if you don’t confess to a nonpayment of which the state is unaware.

The Voluntary Disclosure and Compliance Program has been in effect since September but, despite $50 million that is being collected from 1,700 participants, it has not been well publicized.

Eligible taxpayers can save thousands in penalties and not be prosecuted for criminal tax fraud if they agree in writing to pay back-tax debt and become compliant in future years.

Weitzman said he only learned about the program last month.

It was in legislation passed in this year’s state budget and is part of the state’s new tax enforcement initiatives.

“When I heard about this program, I felt that it was a win-win situation for everybody — the state, the county and the individuals,” said Weitzman, who added that the program covers 42 different taxes, including sales taxes, of which the counties will get a portion.

“It is a statutory program that is unique in the nation and unprecedented in New York,” said Deputy Commissioner of Tax Enforcement William Comiskey, who is expected at today’s news conference. “It balances the Department’s increased tax enforcement efforts by providing taxpayers with an opportunity to self-correct past tax delinquencies without penalty and to become tax compliant in the future.” Taxpayers can participate by applying online and answering only a handful of simple questions to determine if they are eligible. Participants may be allowed to have a payment plan.