Best of TaxLetter: Tax Amnesty

New Jersey began a 90-day amnesty program on September 10, 1988. The publicity campaign made this one stand out. Advertisements warned "Pay now, or you'll pay a lot more later," and "Time is running out." Governor Thomas Kean made his appearance in television spots. Standing in front of an open jail cell, Kean said, "If you haven't paid your taxes, do it now... We have a lot of nice places to visit, but this isn't one of them." The state attorney general received a $1.5 million appropriation for prosecuting delinquents after the amnesty ended. (No. 60)

The successful tax amnesty program in Massachusetts, where 250,000 people voluntarily paid over $40 million in back taxes, has sparked interest at the federal level. Massachusetts is turning over those 250,000 names to IRS. IRS has no amnesty program. (No. 43, 1984)

Midway through the criminal trial of a North Central Airlines pilot for failure to file tax returns, one of the jurors asked the court: "Whether the outcome will cause any of us to be audited by IRS"? (September 1979)


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Created: March 21, 1996; Last updated: January 26, 2004
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