Massachusetts Enacts 2016 Amnesty Program

Massachusetts has enacted a 2016 tax amnesty program. All tax types administered by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) are included, with the exception of Preferred Provider excise and those covered under the International Fuels Tax Agreement. An online amnesty return will be available on the DOR website beginning April 1, 2016 and will continue through May 31, 2016. Tax penalties and any interest due on those penalties will be waived for qualified participants. The amnesty program will have a three-year limited lookback period. Amnesty is available to any individual or business who has not currently registered with the DOR, who has not filed a tax return, or who has not reported the full amount of tax owed on a previously filed return for any tax return due on or before December 31, 2015. Amnesty is not available to individuals or businesses who are or have been the subject of a tax-related criminal investigation or prosecution, who have previously filed a false or fraudulent return or statement, or who file a fraudulent amnesty return. The 2016 amnesty program does not cover existing tax liabilities. Additionally, any taxpayer who participated in the 2014 or 2015 tax amnesties conducted by DOR is not eligible for the same tax types or tax periods. We strongly recommend all taxpayers who may have liability in Massachusetts review their records to determine if an amnesty filing is warranted. After the amnesty program closes, Massachusetts’ new state-of-the-art integrated tax systemwill make it easier to identify those who have not complied with Massachusetts tax laws. Those who are discovered to have a liability after the period closes will be at risk for double the amount of tax due and other penalties, an unlimited lookback period as there is no statute of limitations on unfiled returns and the Department may impose a six-year lookback on a previously filed return if certain under-reporting criteria are identified. The Department has also indicated that it will have escalating enforcement efforts, including potential criminal prosecution. (Release, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, January 18, 2016)

Posted on February 22, 2016