Amnesty bill seeks money for schools

Monday, March 7, 2011 11:54 PM

DENVER — Two Denver Democrats say they can raise money for schools by offering amnesty to people who are behind on their taxes.

Senate Bill 184, which Sen. Pat Steadman introduced Wednesday, would offer a tax amnesty this August and September for people and businesses who owed the state money as of the end of last year.

In return for settling up with the state, delinquent taxpayers would have all their late fines waived. People could either enter a payment plan, or pay immediately and get a 50 percent discount on the interest they owe.

“We think this is a proven method to collect taxes due, to get the money in now,” Steadman said.

The Legislature offered a tax amnesty in 2003, and it raised $20 million. Steadman thinks this version could bring in $15 million.

Any extra money would go to the state education fund to offset some of the deep cuts schools are expecting.

The bill also calls for a report on “tax expenditures,” the various tax credits and exemptions the state offers.

The idea is a reincarnation of another bill by SB 184’s House sponsor, Rep. Mark Ferrandino.

Ferrandino’s first attempt to get a tax expenditure report died last week in a Republican-controlled committee. He still thinks it’s a good idea.

Reach Joe Hanel at