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July 11, 2003

Online File and Pay System Now Available for Tax Amnesty

TALLAHASSEE - Florida taxpayers now can file returns and pay overlooked or overdue tax online under the state's money-saving 2003 tax amnesty program, the state Department of Revenue announced Friday.

The Department's online file-and-pay system has been available since Wednesday, and taxpayers already are using it to submit a required tax amnesty agreement, file sales and intangible tax returns, pay overdue taxes of many types, and to get the benefits offered through the tax amnesty program. To use the online amnesty file-and-pay system, go to: http://www.myflorida.com/dor/amnesty/fileandpay. In addition, complete information on tax amnesty is available at www.myflorida.com/dor.

"Filing and paying online for tax amnesty is fast, simple, and secure," said Jim Zingale, executive director of the Revenue Department. "This transaction is protected by state-of-the-art encryption and security systems. As with filing paper returns and bill payments, taxpayers will have to do their homework before they use the file-and-pay system." Either taxpayers or their tax preparers must know what they owe, and for what periods, before they can take advantage of tax amnesty.

Even under amnesty, taxpayers still owe 100 percent of the tax due. However, taxpayers can save money and lessen later audit or enforcement problems by taking advantage of the amnesty before Oct. 31, 2003. If taxpayers take part in the amnesty program, DOR will:

  • Significantly reduce interest due.
  • Completely waive penalty, which could equal up to 50 percent of the tax due.
  • Reduce the chances that they will be the focus of the Department's attention after the amnesty period, when DOR's new SUNTAX integrated tax administration system helps DOR assure uniform compliance with tax law.

In addition, the amnesty law (CS for SB 18A) will not allow the Department to refer a tax amnesty participant for criminal prosecution for violation of state law. Taxpayers currently under criminal investigation, or who have been convicted of tax-law violations, are not eligible for amnesty.

Amnesty runs July 1 through October 31, 2003. It is estimated to raise $75.3 million. Amnesty applies to all DOR-administered taxes (except unemployment tax) due before July 1, 2003. Taxes included in amnesty include sales tax, corporate income tax, communications services tax, fuel taxes, gross receipts tax, and Florida intangible tax.

Taxpayers who identify a tax liability unknown to DOR will be required to pay only half as much interest as they would if DOR found the unpaid tax later. If DOR already has identified the tax liability in a bill, jeopardy assessment, or other assessment, or has already scheduled an audit, the taxpayer is eligible for a one-fourth cut in interest charges. In addition, taxpayers will receive a complete waiver of penalty under tax amnesty. Taxpayers who comply with tax law already save money – they never owe penalty or interest.

Taxpayers who owe tax will lose a significant financial advantage if they wait until after the tax amnesty expires Oct. 31, 2003. After that date, the interest rate will double, from 4 percent to 8 percent, and penalty will apply.

Taxpayers who owe tax but fail to take advantage of tax amnesty will be the focus of increased Department enforcement activity after Oct. 31, 2003. The Department of Revenue has begun implementing a new, integrated tax-administration information system that will give DOR greater ability to identify patterns of tax compliance across regions and industries. The new SUNTAX system is expected to provide better information than ever previously available to help DOR assure compliance with tax law.

After amnesty expires, DOR will launch enhanced compliance-enforcement efforts aimed at collecting unpaid taxes in several areas, including but not limited to:

  • Sales tax on commercial rentals.
  • Sales (and use) tax on purchases of business equipment.
  • Purchases from out-of-state vendors for which use tax is not paid.
  • Communications services tax on substitute communications systems.

Taxpayers also may wish to explore their rights under the joint Certified Audit Program operated by the Florida Institute of CPAs and the Department. This program also offers penalty and interest reductions for participating taxpayers. Taxpayers may choose whether they wish to report tax liabilities under the tax amnesty or the certified audit program, but they cannot receive tax benefits under both programs for the same liability.

The online amnesty file-and-pay system automatically calculates interest owed on amnesty payments, so taxpayers don't have to do complicated math. If taxpayers don't wish to pay online, they may use the online system to file a return, use the online system to automatically calculate interest owed, then pay by check. Because of time and resource limitations, online filing and payment will be available only for sales and intangible tax. Taxpayers unable to file and pay online should send a tax amnesty agreement, paper tax return and payment to:

    Tax Amnesty, PO Box 5800,
    Florida Department of Revenue,
    Tallahassee, FL, 32314-5800.