Certain individual and business taxpayers may be able to take advantage of a special two-month Tax Amnesty Program recently authorized by the Massachusetts Legislature. Only taxpayers who receive a Tax Amnesty Notice from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) will be eligible for the amnesty program, which applies to certain existing individual and business tax liabilities that were stated on a Notice of Assessment issued by the Commissioner on or before July 1, 2014.

The amnesty program will run from September 1, 2014 to October 31, 2014 but will not extend to individuals and businesses that have already paid all tax and interest amounts due and only owe penalties, those that have signed settlement agreements with the Commissioner, or those who are determined to have been the subject of tax-related criminal investigations or prosecutions prior to or during the amnesty program. Also, any taxpayer that delivers or discloses or has delivered or disclosed any false or fraudulent application, document, return or other statement in connection with the amnesty program will not be eligible for amnesty and will be subject to the greater of: (i) applicable penalties under G.L. c. 62C; or (ii) a penalty not to exceed $10,000.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What is the Tax Amnesty Program?
  2. Am I eligible to participate in the Tax Amnesty Program?
  3. Who is not eligible for Amnesty?
  4. What types of taxes are covered under the Amnesty Program?
  5. What tax liabilities are covered by Amnesty?
  6. What if I did not receive a Tax Amnesty Notice but I believe based on my records that I am eligible to participate in the Amnesty Program?
  7. What are the benefits available under the Tax Amnesty Program?
  8. Will DOR waive interest?
  9. What is the deadline to submit payment?
  10. How do I pay the amnesty balance on the Tax Amnesty Notice?
  11. Will I be charged a convenience fee if I use my credit card?
  12. Does the Commonwealth receive any portion of the convenience fee?
  13. Can I pay by personal check?
  14. What if I do not make a payment for any period listed on the Tax Amnesty Notice or if I pay the Tax Amnesty Notice after October 31, 2014?
  15. What if I can’t pay the entire balance, but I still want to participate in the Amnesty Program?
  16. Will I be notified by DOR if I make a payment in part or in full?
  17. What if I overpay?
  18. I have outstanding taxes which are subject to existing “payment agreements” with DOR – can these qualify for Tax Amnesty?
  19. Can the unpaid penalties be waived on the amount I owe through an existing “payment agreement” that I have with DOR if I do not pay any period in full by October 31, 2014?
  20. I have authorized DOR to make electronic withdrawals as part of my “payment agreement” with DOR – what happens if I now participate in the Amnesty Program?
  21. I am currently disputing a tax assessment – how does this impact my eligibility for Amnesty?
  22. Would paying the amnesty amount affect any abatement or appeal rights that I normally would have?
  23. What if a judgment and/or lien has been filed against me, or my wages are being garnished, because of past due taxes?
  24. Will collection activities continue during the amnesty period?

 

1. What is the Tax Amnesty Program?

Section 264 of Chapter 165 of the Acts of 2014 provides for the Commissioner of Revenue to establish a two-month Amnesty Program.  Under this program, DOR will waive unpaid penalties for eligible taxpayers with certain existing individual and business tax liabilities (see “What types of taxes are covered by the Amnesty Program”, below) if the outstanding taxes and interest are paid in full by October 31, 2014 for the tax period(s) assessed.  The amnesty period begins on September 1, 2014 and ends on October 31, 2014. A Tax Amnesty Notice will be issued to eligible taxpayers beginning September 2, 2014. This amnesty program is for outstanding liabilities that were stated on a Notice of Assessment issued by the Commissioner on or before July 1, 2014.

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2. Am I eligible to participate in the Tax Amnesty Program?

The Amnesty Program is open to taxpayers who have an unpaid tax liability for an Eligible Tax Type (see “What types of taxes are covered by the Amnesty Program”, below) that has been previously assessed by the Commissioner or self-assessed, in either case provided that such assessment is reflected in a Notice of Assessment issued by the Commissioner on or before July 1, 2014. DOR will issue eligible taxpayers a "Tax Amnesty Notice." An eligible taxpayer who participates in the Amnesty Program will not be eligible to participate in future Massachusetts amnesty programs for a period of ten consecutive years, beginning with calendar year 2015.

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3. Who is not eligible for Amnesty?

The Amnesty Program covers only the types of taxes and tax periods described below, and only those taxpayers who are issued a Tax Amnesty Notice. Taxpayers with tax liabilities for other tax types or periods are not eligible for the Amnesty Program with respect to such taxes or periods. In addition, taxpayers are not eligible for amnesty if: 1) the Commissioner determines that they are or were the subject of a tax-related criminal prosecution or investigation, or 2) they have signed settlement agreements with the Commissioner, or 3) they have paid all tax and interest due relating to any outstanding assessment but, at the start of the amnesty period, still owe or are properly disputing penalties from that assessment or 4) they deliver or disclose or have delivered or disclosed any false or fraudulent application, document, return or other statement in connection with the Amnesty Program.

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4. What types of taxes are covered under the Amnesty Program?

The amnesty program is limited to taxpayers with certain existing tax liabilities, as follows:

1) individuals with existing personal income tax liabilities, existing personal use tax liabilities, existing personal boat/recreational vehicles sales tax liabilities, and existing cigarette excise liabilities (pertaining to purchases for individual consumption) and 2) taxpayers with the following existing business tax liabilities:  sales/use tax, sales tax on telecommunications services, meals tax, meals tax local option, materialman sales tax, withholding income, performer withholding, pass-through entity withholding, lottery annuity withholding, room occupancy excise, room occupancy excise local option, convention center financing fees on room occupancy in Boston, Cambridge, Chicopee, Springfield, West Springfield, and Worcester, convention center financing surcharge for sightseeing tours, convention center financing surcharge on vehicle rentals in Boston, convention center financing surcharge on parking in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester, deeds excise, cigarette excise, cigars and smoking tobacco excise, club alcohol beverage excise, gasoline excise, special fuels excise, special fuels excise local option, and boat/recreational vehicles sales tax.

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5. What tax liabilities are covered by Amnesty?

The Amnesty Program applies to outstanding liabilities for qualifying taxes assessed by the Commissioner or self-assessed by the taxpayer that, in either case, were stated on a Notice of Assessment issued by the Commissioner on or before July 1, 2014.

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6. What if I did not receive a Tax Amnesty Notice but I believe based on my records that I am eligible to participate in the Amnesty Program?

DOR will issue eligible taxpayers a "Tax Amnesty Notice." If you do not receive a notice and believe that you should have, based on the criteria detailed in these FAQs and the Department’s Technical Information Release 14-8, you may contact the Department at (617) 887-6367 to see if you qualify for the program.

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7. What are the benefits available under the Tax Amnesty Program?

If you are issued a “Tax Amnesty Notice” from DOR and you pay the full amount of tax and interest due for any tax period listed on the notice by October 31, 2014, DOR will waive unpaid late file penalties, late payment penalties, penalties for failure to file a proper return, penalties for underpayment of tax attributable to negligence or disregard of the tax laws or to a substantial understatement of tax, penalties for failure to file, report or pay electronically, and failure to pay the proper amount of any estimated tax payment for such period.

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8. Will DOR waive interest?

Interest (other than interest associated with unpaid penalties that are waived) cannot be waived.

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9. What is the deadline to submit payment?

Amnesty payments must be paid online or postmarked by October 31, 2014.

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10. How do I pay the Amnesty Balance on the Tax Amnesty Notice?

There are three convenient ways to pay the amnesty balance due. You can choose to pay the amnesty balance by credit card, personal check or online electronic payment from your checking or savings account using the DOR website.

When making a payment through any of these methods, you must provide the "bill number" listed in the upper right hand corner of your .

Methods of payment:

1. On-line payment

  • Businesses:  A convenient way for a business to pay is online through DOR’s Amnesty payment options. This application will allow you to make electronic payments directly from a checking or savings account. Click the Pay a Tax Bill link below and enter your Bill Number and Federal Identification Number. Pay a Tax Bill.
  • Individuals: A convenient way for individuals to pay is online through DOR’s Amnesty payment options. This application will allow you to make electronic payments directly from a checking or savings account. Click the Pay a Tax Bill link below and enter your Bill Number and Social Security Number. Pay a Tax Bill

2. Pay by credit card

You may pay your amnesty balance using a third party credit card vendor. The vendor has been approved by the Commonwealth for this purpose and a convenience fee will apply. To access this payment option click on the Pay a Tax Bill link below and enter your Bill Number and either you’re Social Security Number or your Federal Identification Number.  Pay a Tax Bill.

3. Pay by check

If paying by check, it’s very important that you attach the coupon provided on your Tax Amnesty Notice and your payment must be postmarked by October 31, 2014. Don’t miss the deadline by having your check returned because it was improperly completed. Your check must be made out to Commonwealth of Massachusetts and must be signed to be processed.

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11. Will I be charged a convenience fee if I use my credit card?

Yes. If you choose to make a credit card payment, a convenience fee (of 2.49%) will be charged by the third party credit card vendor. The convenience fee charge will appear separately from the amnesty payment charge on your credit card statement.

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12. Does the Commonwealth receive any portion of the convenience fee?

No. The convenience fee defrays the cost of processing credit card payments and is paid directly to the third party credit card vendor. No portion of this fee is collected or retained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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13. Can I pay by personal check?

Yes. When paying by check through the mail, you must complete and attach the coupon from the Tax Amnesty Notice.  You must also include your bill number on your check. All checks must be signed and made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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14. What if I do not make a payment for any period listed on the Tax Amnesty Notice or if I pay the Tax Amnesty Notice after October 31, 2014?

If you do not make a payment for any tax period listed on the Tax Amnesty Notice by October 31, 2014, you will not be granted amnesty for any period and ongoing Department of Revenue billing and collection action will continue on all of your unpaid liabilities. No amnesty denial notification will be sent to you in this circumstance.

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15. What if I can’t pay the entire balance, but I still want to participate in the Amnesty Program?

If you are unable to pay the entire amount, you may elect to make a full payment of all tax and interest due for a particular tax type and tax period. However, if you have any remaining balances after October 31, 2014, full penalty and interest will be applied to the remaining outstanding periods and tax types. Penalty waivers only apply to those tax types for tax periods paid in full by October 31, 2014.


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16. Will I be notified by DOR if I make a payment in part or in full?

Yes. If you make a payment for one or more tax periods shown on the Tax Amnesty Notice, you will be notified in writing by DOR of the tax periods that are approved and/or denied for amnesty. Such notification will be provided after amnesty payment and penalty waiver processing is complete.

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17. What if I overpay?

Any overpayments of tax and interest under the Amnesty Program will be applied to other tax periods with outstanding liabilities, if any, or will be refunded if no outstanding liabilities exist.

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18. I have outstanding taxes which are subject to existing “payment agreements” with DOR – can these qualify for Tax Amnesty?

If you have a current payment agreement for a tax eligible for the Amnesty Program with DOR, and the applicable tax periods are included in the Tax Amnesty Notice, you are eligible to participate in the Amnesty Program. DOR will waive the remaining unpaid penalties if the agreed-upon tax and interest balances are paid in full by October 31, 2014. If you are unable to pay any tax period(s) on the Tax Amnesty Notice in full, you must continue to make your payments as required under your agreement with DOR. If you do not intend to participate in the Amnesty Program, please do not use the Amnesty Notice Bill Number or Coupon to submit payment. You must continue to submit your payments with the coupon from your payment agreement notice.

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19. Can the unpaid penalties be waived on the amount I owe through an existing “payment agreement” that I have with DOR if I do not pay any period in full by October 31, 2014?

No. In order to have unpaid penalties waived on any tax period on the Tax Amnesty Notice, the full Amnesty Balance Due must be paid on that period by October 31, 2014.

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20. I have authorized DOR to make electronic withdrawals as part of my “payment agreement” with DOR – what happens if I now participate in the Amnesty Program?

Electronic withdrawals will continue until you pay the full amnesty balance due or make any payment using the Amnesty Notice Bill Number. If you are having electronic withdrawals made monthly and are unsure of your Amnesty Balance Due as a result, contact the DOR collector with whom you are working or the Customer Service Bureau number listed on your amnesty notice to ensure proper crediting of your payments. If you make partial amnesty payments toward the Amnesty Balance Due for any tax period using the Amnesty Notice Bill Number, your current payment agreement will be terminated and you will need to reapply to DOR for a new payment agreement.

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21. I am currently disputing a tax assessment – how does this impact my eligibility for Amnesty?

Any taxpayer who has an appeal pending with respect to an assessment made by the Commissioner or a self-assessment for an eligible tax type and period is eligible for participation in the Amnesty Program if the taxpayer has been issued a “Tax Amnesty Notice” and timely pays all taxes and interest owed in full.

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22. Would paying the amnesty amount affect any abatement or appeal rights that I normally would have?

No. Participation in the Amnesty Program and payment of the tax and interest do not constitute a taxpayer’s forfeiture of statutory rights of appeal or an admission of liability for the assessment. The Amnesty does not change the normally applicable abatement or appeals process or statute of limitations.

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23. What if a judgment and/or lien has been filed against me, or my wages are being garnished, because of past due taxes?

If you pay the amnesty balance due using the Tax Amnesty Bill Number, any related judgments, liens or garnishments will be released once amnesty is approved.

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24. Will collection activities continue during the amnesty period?

Yes. Until the amnesty balance is paid in full using the Tax Amnesty Bill Number, DOR billing and collection actions, which include the authority to lien, levy and seize assets and to suspend licenses, will continue on a taxpayer’s account.

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