FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky could generate more than $60 million through an amnesty offer that allows delinquent taxpayers to avoid financial penalties and prosecution if they pay up within the next two months.
Gov. Steve Beshear kicked off a public awareness campaign Monday aimed at getting word to delinquent taxpayers in hopes of filling state coffers with overdue cash.
"This is a great way to add significant revenue to the state budget in a short amount of time," Beshear said. "Offering amnesty also helps responsible taxpayers who've faced tough times and want to get out of trouble a way to meet their obligations and save them significant money."
Lawmakers authorized the amnesty offer earlier this year at the request of Beshear who expects it to reap $61 million for the cash-strapped state that's still feeling the pinch of economic recession. The money will be used to help balance a two-year, $19 billion budget that requires most state agencies and programs to be cut by 8.4 percent.
Kentucky has a list of nearly 170,000 people and businesses behind on their tax payments.
The amnesty offer expires Nov. 30.
A similar offer a decade ago resulted in more than 23,000 taxpayers shelling out $40 million.
The Department of Revenue has said that people and businesses taking advantage of the amnesty offer could pay an average of 30 percent less than what they actually owe. The average debt for people behind on their state taxes is about $5,000, and the average debt for businesses is about $25,000.
Delinquent taxpayers who don't apply for amnesty will be charged higher penalties and additional interest. And taxpayers who accept the amnesty offer have to remain current on their taxes over the next three years or face reinstated penalties, fees and interest. They will be getting notifications in the mail telling them the amounts they owe and how to take advantage of the amnesty offer.
To ensure that delinquent taxpayers are aware of the offer, the state also kicked off an advertising campaign Monday that will use broadcast, print and online media. The governor unveiled a TV ad at a Capitol press conference Monday.