July 30, 2010

Florida Department of Revenue Amnesty Program Available July 1, 2010 Through September 30, 2010

Holland & Knight Alert
Jim Ervin

Potential Opportunities for All Companies Doing Business in Florida to Benefit

During its 2010 Session, the Florida Legislature passed legislation directing the Department of Revenue (DOR) to implement a three-month amnesty program. The program was implemented July 1, 2010, and will end September 30, 2010. Because Florida does not impose a personal income tax, the amnesty program would be of most interest to businesses, rather than individuals. The program applies to tax liabilities due prior to July 1, 2010.

The amnesty program is a one-time opportunity for eligible taxpayers to satisfy tax liabilities and avoid criminal prosecution, penalties, and partial interest.

The amnesty program applies to the following Florida taxes:

  • sales and use tax (including discretionary sales surtaxes)
  • corporate income and emergency excise tax
  • communications services tax
  • insurance premium taxes, surcharges and fees
  • documentary stamp tax
  • fuel taxes (including local option taxes)
  • estate tax
  • gross receipts tax on utility services
  • local option tourist development taxes (administered by DOR and by those counties that self-administer tourist development taxes that have opted into the amnesty program)
  • nonrecurring intangible personal property tax
  • pollutants taxes
  • governmental leasehold intangible personal property tax
  • motor vehicle warranty fee (“Lemon Law”)

Under the terms of the program, taxpayers will be responsible for paying 75 percent of accrued interest as part of the amnesty program if they are currently under audit, inquiry, examination or civil investigation initiated by DOR. Taxpayers will be responsible for paying 50 percent of accrued interest if the circumstances above do not exist and the initial contact with DOR is made by the taxpayer. Penalties will not be imposed and criminal investigation will not be pursued for failure to timely pay the tax disclosed in the amnesty program.

Eligibility Requirements

Taxpayers may only participate in the amnesty program if they agree to waive their rights to contest the taxes being reported during the amnesty period. Pending informal protests and non-final administrative and judicial matters must be dismissed to participate. Additionally, participation is conditioned upon an express agreement to waive any right to claim a refund or contest a denial of a refund of tax or interest paid under the amnesty program. If a credit or refund will be given, it is strictly limited to the amounts determined by DOR.

Certain taxpayers are not eligible, such as those who have entered into a settlement of liability for state or local option taxes before July 1, 2010, whether or not full and complete payment of the settlement amount has been made. Taxpayers who are under criminal investigation or prosecution for violation of a Florida revenue law may not participate.

If eligible to participate, taxpayers must file all forms required by the Department of Revenue, make full payment of the tax due and the interest specified for the amnesty program as well as pay the administrative collection processing fee. Taxpayers can request approval to pay in installments.

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