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Tue., April 12, 2011, 10:10 a.m.

Amnesty on business taxes reaps close to $30 million for Washington’s general fund

Every little bit helps. Cash-strapped Washington state will collect up to $30 million -- and potentially more --  in back taxes through an amnesty program that ends April 18.

More than 7,000 companies statewide have applied for the amnesty. About 4,200 of them are still being reviewed for eligibility.

So far 174 Spokane County businesses have been approved or are under review, said Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for Washington’s Department of Revenue.

The Legislature approved the one-time amnesty in last year’s session. It allows businesses to pay past-due state or local taxes without extra fines or penalties. Payments must be made by April 30.

The state has approved more than 1,400 businesses so far. Another 1,300 applications have been denied. Denials occur if the company has filed bankruptcy or if an owner has been assessed a penalty for tax evasion or been prosecuted for failing to pay taxes.

Of the total money raised, about $3.9 million will go to cities and counties; that money comes from previously unpaid local sales or use taxes. How much will go to Spokane governments is not yet known, he said.

To be eligible, businesses must have outstanding past-due taxes incurred before Feb. 1.

When the program started, the state said 50,000 businesses, about 10 percent of those registered in Washington, owed past-due taxes. Those businesses owe about $183 million in back taxes, according to Gowrylow.

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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.