State offers late tax payers 'Clean Slate'

Wednesday, September 24th 2008, 7:57 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Almost a quarter million delinquent Oklahoma taxpayers were recently put on notice, being told to pay up now, penalty-free, or pay later and the penalty doubles.

The Clean Slate '08, which was approved by state lawmakers and the Governor last session, runs until November 14. The bill is intended to pump additional cast into the state's coffers.

"They can come in, they can pay their taxes, and they will pay no penalty, no interest," said Paula Ross of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

According to the Clean Slate '08, if the taxes are not paid by the November 14 deadline, the fees and penalties double.

Since the Clean Slate program began, more than 13,000 people have inquired about paying off their taxes. Some citizens are curious about the consequences if they don't think they can pay all their back taxes before the deadline.

"They could possibly do a payout plan," Ross said. "There's a variety of options, and they really need to talk to a Clean Slate representative and see what will work best for them."

According to the plan, as long as the taxpayer stays current and makes payments by June of next year and have paid their balances in full, they will be eligible for the waiver of penalty and interest.

State Tax Commission officials said they expect $32 million in unpaid taxes.

"It is something they may not offer again," Ross said. "It's just hard to tell because it's based on legislation; it's based on if they think the timing is right, so it's probably an opportunity that, if people do own taxes, they need to take advantage of."

The Clean Slate '08 is the third time the state has offered amnesty, the last time being in 2002.

The program was challenged as unconstitutional by local attorney Jerry Fent, but the state Supreme Court unanimously rejected Fent's claim. He said he disagreed with the ruling and plans to file a petition for a rehearing.