Video report by Beau Berman, Fox CT
Text by Kevin Hunt, The Hartford Courant
The only thing worse than taxes owed is taxes owed that you can’t afford to pay.
Gina Sullivan, who says her unemployed husband and two teenage boys were living paycheck-to-paycheck this summer in Enfield, made only token payments on her back taxes but not enough to satisfy the state.
Guess who won this tug-o’-taxes? The state, of course, with an emphatic liquidation in mid-August of two family bank accounts.
“I check my bank account, as I do every day,” says Sullivan, “and noticed both my checking account and savings account had zero balances. I immediately called my bank and they told me the state of Connecticut took that money. They even took the $35 that we had in our savings account.”
The state, it turns out, wants to help people like the Sullivan family, and not by draining their bank accounts.
The state’s latest 60-day tax amnesty program, which expires Nov. 15, offers incentives to delinquent taxpayers in the hopes of recouping some of the estimated $400 million owed in back taxes by about 80,000 taxpayers. (The state Department of Revenue Services, says spokeswoman Sarah Kaufman, is on target to reach the $35 million goal for the program established by state lawmakers.) Each year, the DRS recovers an average of $150 million in unpaid back taxes.
The amnesty program includes almost every state tax except local property taxes and even non-filers of state tax returns (except for motor carrier road taxes) from the period ending on or before Nov. 30, 2012. Applications must be filed electronically through the Amnesty Taxpayer Service Center (www.makeitrightct.com).
Once enrolled in the amnesty program, a taxpayer’s interest on the amount owed is reduced by 75 percent and all penalties will be waived for both individual taxpayers and businesses. To receive the amnesty benefits, taxes due must be paid by the end of the amnesty program, Nov. 15.
Sullivan, like many taxpayers, was unaware of both the periodic amnesty program and the always-available payment plans that do not forgive penalties and interest but permit a sensible, affordable payment schedule.
To read Kevin Hunt’s complete Bottom Line column, click here to go to courant.com.