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Texas 'Fresh Start' tax amnesty program announced - Part one

If you speak to anyone who has ever had a tax liability to either the state or federal government, you may hear stories about not just the tax, but the penalties and interest piled on top of the tax.

The state of Texas comptroller has just announced an amnesty program called "Fresh Start." The program is designed to help businesses become current with any unpaid back taxes and returns, without the fear of penalties and interest. During our next few blog postings, we'll take a look at how it works, who it helps, and answer a few questions that small business owners might have about the program.

The first thing that businesses should be aware of is that the program will only last for a short amount of time. The amnesty program is set to run from June 12 through Aug. 17, 2012. There was no mention of the amnesty program being extended beyond that time, although there have been other amnesties offered in the past.

The second important item is to understand what kind of taxes and which returns are eligible for the amnesty.

  • Fresh Start applies to sales tax, franchise tax and other taxes administered by the Comptroller's office, with some exceptions.
  • Fresh Start applies to those small businesses or sole proprietors that have not filed a tax return.
  • Fresh Start is available to those with underreported tax on a return that has been filed.
  • Fresh Start is also for those who currently don't have a permit to report or remit Texas taxes.

For many small business owners, this is great news. But who doesn't it apply to?

  • Fresh Start is not an option for those currently in an audit.
  • Fresh Start is not available to you if the Comptroller's office has notified you that there is a tax examination pending.

For those who are concerned about unpaid taxes, it is always a good idea to seek professional help to avoid making unintended errors. In future posts, we will explore the Fresh Start program in greater detail.

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

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