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'Fresh Start' Program Begins Soon: Part Three (an Example)

In our previous postings, our Houston readers learned about a program called "Fresh Start" that will be offered by the state of Texas. It is an amnesty program for taxpayers that owe taxes which have not yet been paid, as well as for taxpayers who have not filed tax returns.

An amnesty program can be beneficial for both the state Comptroller's office, which gains uncollected revenue, and for taxpayers that get to avoid tax penalties and can start fresh. It was recently reported that a Justice of the Peace and candidate for Galveston County Commissioner Precinct 1, recently paid back-taxes before the start of the Fresh Start program.

The candidate reportedly owned a bar and grill in San Leon that was called Judges. Public records show the candidate as the only owner of the establishment, although the candidate claims that there is a co-owner. Apparently the business floundered when Hurricane Ike came through, and the business closed.

The story between the candidate and the alleged co-owner differs. The co-owner claims he obtained a loan on behalf of the candidate and the candidate failed to make the loan payments or pay the taxes. The candidate claims that he gave the property back to the other man, who should have been responsible for it from that point on.

Apparently, the property went into foreclosure, and some taxes were still unpaid. The tax bill from the assessor was for personal property such as equipment, fixtures and furniture inside the business, and for which the candidate was still partially responsible.

The candidate wrote a check for back taxes totaling $3,874.93 which included penalties and interest.

The story of co-owners disagreeing and a business going under are not uncommon. In this case, the "Fresh Start" program does not apply to property taxes, so that portion of the taxes owed would not seem to apply. However, other taxes such as the sales and use taxes would be covered under the amnesty program.

Judges as a business closed but in some instances the amnesty program can help a business stay afloat long enough to become successful. It begins on June 12.

Source: Texas Comptroller's Office, "Fresh Start Texas Taxpayer Amnesty Program 2012," May 4, 2012

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