Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sen. Steadman and Rep. Ferrandino Introduce Tax Amnesty, Transparency and Accountability Bill

Proposed legislation will provide tax relief for Colorado businesses and middle class, increase funds for K-12 education

DENVER– State Representative Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) and State Senator Pat Steadman (D-Denver) today announced a proposal that will help Colorado’s middle class and small businesses and help make state government more transparent.

Senate Bill 184 would create a tax amnesty program for 60 days this summer from August to September which will allow anyone who owes taxes prior to this year to pay what they owe and have penalties forgiven. Delinquent taxes paid in full during the amnesty period will be assessed interest at one-half the normal rate.

Amounts collected above that needed to administer the program will be credited to the State Education Fund. The tax amnesty program is estimated to raise up to $15 million in revenue for the state.

To ensure taxpayer money is spent wisely and well, and expand transparency and accountability, the legislation will also direct state agencies to demonstrate the cost and effectiveness of all tax expenditures that result in reduced revenue from the state; including income tax credits, sales tax exemptions.

“Eight years ago, in our last economic downturn, the state facilitated a similar tax amnesty program to the one we’re proposing today. It was estimated then that we would generate $4 million and instead raised over $20 million,” said Senator Steadman. “Now is the right time to bring this program back. In the face of unprecedented cuts to public education, we need to look at every possible efficiency and we need to make every effort to help our schools and provide taxpayers with a transparent and accountable government.”

“As we continue to face difficult budget decisions and deeper cuts lie ahead, a tax amnesty program for Colorado families and small businesses is a proven method for increasing state revenue. In this case we plan to use that revenue to help offset cuts to education,” said Representative Ferrandino. “Additionally, our bill will bring transparency and shine sunlight on the $2 billion in annual state tax credits, deductions and exemptions. It’s a win-win measure that provides a boost for working Coloradans. I want to work with Coloradans to help our kids and help our schools. This is the right policy at the right time.”